New research suggests that regular high-intensity physical activity may help to keep disease progression in check.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.
Primary symptoms include tremor, stiffness, slowness, impaired balance, and later on a shuffling gait. Some secondary symptoms may include anxiety, depression, and dementia. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and the most common movement disorder. In the United States, around 1 million people live with Parkinson’s disease and approximately 60,000 new cases are diagnosed every year; most individuals who develop Parkinson’s disease are 60 years of age or older.
A phase II clinical trial, called the Study in Parkinson Disease of Exercise (SPARX), was recently conducted by researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, and the University of Colorado in Denver. They found that high-intensity physical exercise can beneficial for people with early stage Parkinson’s disease, as it may delay the progression of symptoms related to motor abilities. “If you have Parkinson’s disease and you want to delay the progression of your symptoms, you should exercise three times a week with your heart rate between 80 to 85 percent maximum. It is that simple,” says study author Daniel Corcos.