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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Treadmill exercise helps Parkinson's patients

People with Parkinson's disease who walk on a treadmill at a comfortable, low-intensity speed for a longer duration may be able to improve their gait and mobility, according to a new study.

The researchers have found that such exercise may be better than walking at faster speeds for a shorter period of time.

They also found benefits for stretching and resistance exercises. The study showed that low-intensity exercise performed for 50 minutes three times a week was the most beneficial in terms of helping participants improve their mobility. Walking difficulty is the major cause of disability in Parkinson's disease.
These results show that exercise in people with Parkinson's disease can make a difference in their function. Exercise may, in fact, delay disability and help to preserve independence.

The study compared 67 people with Parkinson's disease who were randomly assigned to one of three exercise groups:
       -walking on a treadmill at low intensity for 50 minutes,
       -higher-intensity treadmill training to improve cardiovascular fitness for 30 minutes,
       -and using weights (leg presses, extensions and curls) and stretching exercises to improve muscle strength and range of motion.
Participants exercised three times a week for three months under the supervision of exercise physiologists.
The team measured participants' cardiovascular fitness before and after training, and found cardiovascular improvement in both the low- and high-intensity groups. Other measurements included the distance covered in a six-minute walk and timed tests of walking short distances, such as 50 feet.