Parkinson’s & Daily Exercise
With the weather becoming so enjoyable and the days longer, it’s time to start getting more active. Taking walks, gardening, small projects outside to soak up that vitamin D, visiting the lake, golfing, or swimming are great ways to get outside and get more exercise – that doesn’t FEEL like exercise. Especially with a new study showing that regular exercise is linked to a lower Parkinson’s risk. While the research does not establish a direct causal relationship between exercise and a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, it does demonstrate a significant association.
This study was conducted by researchers at the Inserm Research Center in Paris, France, and involved 95,354 female participants that had an average age of 49. None of the participants had Parkinson’s disease at the beginning of the study. Over a span of three decades, 1,074 participants developed Parkinson’s disease.
To assess the participants’ physical activity levels, they completed up to six questionnaires regarding the types and amounts of physical activity they engaged in. The activities included walking, climbing stairs, household activities, moderate recreational activities such as gardening, and more vigorous activities like sports. Each activity was assigned a score based on its metabolic equivalent of a task (METs), which quantifies energy expenditure.
The results revealed that the participants who exercised the most had a 25% lower rate of Parkinson’s disease compared to those who exercised the least. This association remained even when physical activity was assessed up to 10, 15, or 20 years before the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Various factors such as place of residence, age of first period and menopausal status, smoking, diet, and medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease were considered and adjusted within the study.
From the study findings, it was observed that physical activity declined at a faster rate 10 years before the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in those affected compared to those without the disease. Suggesting that early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may contribute to the decline in physical activity levels.
Dr. Alexis Elbaz, the lead author of the study, emphasized the importance of exercise as a low-cost means of improving overall health and potentially preventing Parkinson’s disease. Even though the study focused on female participants, the findings could have implications for the general population as well.
Further research is needed to explore the effects of exercise on Parkinson’s disease in a more diverse range of participants due to the participants comprising of mostly health-conscious educators who volunteered for a long-term study. Meaning this could not translate to general populations.
Despite the limitations, the study provides valuable insights into the potential benefits of regular physical activity in reducing the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. It adds to the growing body of evidence supporting exercise as a protective factor against various health conditions. The findings underscore the importance of incorporating exercise into daily routines and highlight the need for further investigation into the preventive effects of physical activity on the disease.
Given there currently is no cure, the identification of lifestyle factors that may lower the risk of developing the disease is of significant importance. By promoting exercise as a preventive measure, healthcare professionals can encourage individuals to lead active lives and potentially reduce their susceptibility. These findings provide a basis for designing targeted exercise programs aimed at lowering the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
This study suggests that regular physical activity, encompassing activities such as cycling, walking, gardening, cleaning, and participating in sports, may be associated with a decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. While more research is needed to establish a causal relationship and to explore the mechanisms underlying this association, the study highlights the potential benefits of exercise in preventing or delaying the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Incorporating regular physical activity into one’s lifestyle can contribute to overall well-being and may help reduce the risk of this debilitating disease.
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Regular Exercise Linked to Lower Parkinson’s Risk