High-intensity treadmill exercise may slow symptoms of Parkinson disease

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According to a study of patients with Parkinson disease (PD), high-intensity aerobic exercise performed on a treadmill in the early stages, and within five years of diagnosis, can slow the severity of symptoms of the disease. While researchers say more research is needed, the treatment proved to be safe and effective after six months.

These findings were published in JAMA Neurology in December 2017. Authors divided 128 patients with PD into three groups: A high-intensity group who did 30 minutes of treadmill work with an 80 to 85 percent maximum target heart rate four times a week, a moderate-intensity group who did 30 minutes on the treadmill with a 60 to 65 percent maximum heart rate four times a week, and a usual-care group who maintained their current rates of physical activity.

After six months, participants completed the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and scores were compared with baseline scores. Those in the high-intensity only group experienced a 0.3 increase in disease progression, compared with a 3.2 increase among those in the usual-care group, and a 2.0 increase among those in the moderate-intensity group.

Parkinson disease is a progressive neurologic disorder. The severity and symptoms can widely vary, but people with PD experience a slow decline in mobility and thinking as the disease progresses through stages. It is the second most common degenerative brain disorder affecting adults (Alzheimer disease is the most common). Physical therapists conduct comprehensive evaluations and develop an individualized and active treatment plan to help patients with PD stay as active and independent as possible.
— American Physical Therapy Association

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