DETROIT (WWJ) – New research suggests weight training for two years significantly improves the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease compared to other forms of exercise such as stretching and balance exercises.
The clinical trial, which compared two forms of exercise for Parkinson’s disease, will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans in April.
“While we have known that many different types of exercise can benefit Parkinson’s patients over short time periods, we did not know whether exercise improves the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s over the long term,” study author Daniel Corcos, with the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in a release.
For the study, 48 people with Parkinson’s disease were randomized to progressive resistance exercise, known as weight training, or they were assigned to the exercise known as fitness counts, which includes flexibility, balance and strengthening exercises. The groups exercised for one hour, twice a week for two years.
The severity of motor symptoms, including tremors, was measured using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) after six, 12, 18 and 24 months of exercise. Scores were taken when the participants were not taking their medication.
While both forms of exercise reduced motor symptoms at six months of exercise, participants who did weight training saw a 7.3 point improvement in their UPRDS score after two years while the fitness counts group returned to the same scores they had at the start of the study.
Corcos said the results suggest that long-term weight training could be considered by patients and doctors as an important component in managing Parkinson’s disease.
Learn more about Parkinson’s disease at www.aan.com/patients.