A study published in Neurology shows that people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease who regularly walk for exercise may improve their disease-related symptoms, such as motor function, mood, fatigue, fitness, and various aspects of thinking abilities. The research study included 60 people who took part in sessions of walking at moderate intensity while wearing heart rate monitors three times a week for 45 minutes per session for 6 months. Additionally, the participants took tests that measured their motor function, mood, tiredness, aerobic fitness, and memory and thinking abilities.

According to news release from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), the average walking speed was about 2.9 miles per hour, and participants were exercising at 47% of their heart rate reserve, meeting the definition of moderate intensity aerobic exercise. The results of the study show that brisk walking improved motor function and mood by 15%, reduced tiredness by 11%, attention/response control scores by 14%, and increased aerobic fitness and gait speed by 7%.

The results of the study also revealed that on the test of motor function, participants improved by an average of 2.8 points, which is considered a clinically important difference, according to AAN. Ergun Y. Uc, MD, author of the study, states, “The results of our study suggest that walking may provide a safe and easily accessible way of improving the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improve quality of life.”

Uc explains that the results need to be confirmed in a randomized study with a control group. However, Uc says, “People with mild-moderate Parkinson’s who do not have dementia and are able to walk independently without a cane or walker can safely follow the recommended exercise guidelines for healthy adults, which includes 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity, and experience benefits.”

Source: American Academy of Neurology