Exercise may assist patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in improving their balance, ability to move around, and quality of life, even if their fall risk is not reduced, study results say. The results yield from a recent study appearing in the December 31 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

An American Academy of Neurology news release reports that the study encompassed a total of 231 individuals with PD who had either received their usual care or took part in an exercise program of 40 to 60 minutes of balance and leg strengthening exercises three times a week for 6 months. The minimally supervised exercise program was prescribed and monitored by a physical therapist, with the participants performing much of the exercise at home. The release notes that on average, 13% of the exercise sessions were supervised by a physical therapist.

According to the release, when compared to the participants in the control group, the number of falls by participants who exercised was reduced in those with less severe PD, but not in those with more severe disease.

Colleen G. Canning, PhD, University of Sydney in Australia, study author, explains in the release that the study’s results “suggest that minimally supervised exercise programs aimed at reducing falls in people with Parkinson’s should be started early in the disease process.”

The release reports that overall, individuals who participated in the exercise program performed better on tests of ability to move around and balance, had a lower fear of falls, and also indicated better overall mood and quality of life.

Source(s): Science Daily, American Academy of Neurology