Parkinson’s patients’ motor and non-motor symptoms were improved with a weekly exercise regimen that included physical and cognitive tasks, according to new research presented recently at The Physiological Society early career conference, Future Physiology 2019: Translating Cellular Mechanisms into Lifelong Health Strategies.

Previous research has shown that either physical or cognitive exercises are effective at improving and sustaining cognitive and/or physical function in people with Parkinson’s.

However, doing different types of exercise (eg, circuit training also including cognitive challenges), may be more beneficial in improving motor and non-motor symptoms, researchers at the University of Kent suggest, in a media release.

In their study, the researchers studied Parkinson’s patients that performed a weekly multi-modal regime (physical and cognitive exercises). This group participated in weekly exercise sessions for over a year and were assessed every 4 months for at least a year (some participants continued on for 2 or 3 years).

This once-a-week exercise program with both physical and cognitive exercises for Parkinson’s disease patients showed an improvement specifically in one-minute sit-to-stand tests and a cognitive test called MiniMental but no other significant changes (ie, no decline) in cognitive and physical health.

This is especially positive as Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease, so the expected outcome, without any interventions, for these symptoms, would be a decline, they share.

These findings are important because they could allow Parkinson’s disease patients to see improvements in their symptoms by correctly tailoring their exercise regimens to include both physical and cognitive exercise.

“Finding the right set of exercises, both cognitive and physical, to improve Parkinson’s treatment is an important step towards giving Parkinson’s patients a better quality of life,” says Anna Ferrusola-Pastrana, a researcher who was involved with the work, in the release.

“This research is working toward honing this set of exercises, which can then potentially be performed by patients, with or without assistance at home.”

[Source: The Physiological Society]