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Exercise Improves Symptoms of Parkinson Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder that affects the nerve cells of the brain that controls a person’s muscle movement. It is characterized by trembling, stiffness, and slowness of movements. Patients may also have poor balance and coordination, which gets worse as the disease progresses. This results in patients having trouble in walking, speaking, and doing simple tasks.  The disease is more common among older people (around 60 years old) and in men. There is no cure for the disease, and treatment is aimed at easing its symptoms.

Recent research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore reveals that treadmill exercise as well as stretching and resistance exercises can improve gait (the way one walks) impairments as well as muscle strength and fitness of patients with Parkinson disease. Lisa M. Shulman, M.D. and colleagues report (Online First by Archives of Neurology, a JAMA Network publication) that the three types of exercise can dramatically improve movement and function in these patients.

The study involved 67 patients with gait impairment who were randomly assigned to three groups, including a higher-intensity treadmill exercise group, a lower-intensity treadmill exercise group, and a stretching and resistance exercise group. The exercises were done thrice a week for 3 months.

The results showed that patients in the lower-intensity treadmill exercise group benefited the most in terms of gait improvement. Cardiovascular fitness was observed in patients who did both high and low-intensity treadmill exercises, while muscle strength and fitness were improved in the stretching and resistance training group.

An accompanying journal editorial states that the study demonstrates the importance of patient participation in the treatment of their disease, which goes beyond the use of medicines and surgery.


JAMA and Archives Journals. Physical exercise improves gait speed, muscle strength, fitness in patients with Parkinson’s disease. ScienceDaily.

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