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Regular walking could improve Parkinson's symptoms

Regular walking could improve Parkinson's symptoms
3rd July 2014

Individuals with Parkinson's disease who regularly go walking could find their symptoms are somewhat alleviated as a result.

Scientists from the University of Iowa worked with 60 individuals who walked at a moderate intensity - which is 47 per cent of their heart rate reserve - in 45-minute periods, three times a week for half a year. Their typical pace was approximately 2.9 mph, while they were also tested on mood, tiredness, memory abilities and aerobic fitness. 

It transpired this form of exercise improved motor function and mood by 15 per cent, while attention and response control scores were boosted by 14 per cent. Fatigue was lessened by 11 per cent, and aerobic fitness and gait speed rose by seven per cent.

Participants saw their motor ability get better by an average of 2.8 points, which the researchers called a "clinically important difference".

Study author Dr Ergun Uc, who is from the Veterans Affair Medical Centre of Iowa City and is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said: "The results of our study suggest that walking may provide a safe and easily accessible way of improving the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and improve quality of life."

Dr Uc added that for those with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease - who do not have any cognitive decline and can walk safely by themselves without a stick - should adhere to the advised exercise guidelines for healthy adults. This equates to "150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity".

However, Dr Uc acknowledged these findings needed to be confirmed by undertaking a random study with further participants. 

These results can be viewed in the July 2nd issue of Neurology. 

Parkinson's disease is a neurological condition and, while there is currently no cure, a range of treatments and drugs are available to combat the symptoms, which can include tremors, slowness of movement and stiffness. 

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