Analyzing data from nearly 5,000 patients with Parkinson’s disease, scientists at Northwestern Medicine have found that regular exercise leads to better quality of life and slows the rates of decline among Parkinson’s patients. “This study throws up a number of important pointers highly relevant to physicians managing Parkinson’s patientst,” said Tanya Simuni, MD, director of the Parkinson’s Disease Movement Disorders Center. Afflicting millions of people in India alone the neurological disease causes the gradual loss of the cells responsible for the production of dopamine, a chemical essential for movement coordination. “There are a lot of effective options to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but there are no curative options or drugs that could slow disease progression,” said Dr. Simuni.
Although there has been a growing amount of evidence indicating that exercise can retard the disease’s progression, it has been uncertain whether patients have the capability for it with their physical limitations. Based on a study of thousands of patients Dr. Simuni and her colleagues found that 44 per cent of Parkinson’s participants reported exercising regularly, more than 150 minutes a week.
“Regular exercisers at baseline were associated with better metrics of quality of life, mobility and physical function and less progression of disease disability, caregiver burden and cognitive decline one year later – even after taking into account disease duration, age and other demographic factors,” said Dr. Simuni. “This shows that people with physical disabilities can effectively exercise.”
The study underlined the importance of engaging in regular exercises by revealing that regular exercisers had less-severe disease symptoms and better cognitive function than low and non-exercisers.