People suffering from Parkinson's disease may benefit from walking regularly and improve both their physical and mental health significantly.
According to a new study, walking has many benefits including the reversal of diabetes, weight reduction and lower blood pressure but it can also improve the health of people with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease. Researchers said these people could benefit from the federal guideline that recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week for people between 18 and 65 years old.
The team studied 60 participants who had mild to moderate Parkinson's disease. They could independently walk without a walker or cane and did not have any other serious health problems. The researchers made them walk briskly at around 2.9 MPH thrice a week for half a year. It took each person 45 minutes per walking session. They all reported each session on their diaries everyday which were collected by trainers who choose their walking routes.
In the study, moderate intensity is the heart rate at least 70 percent of a person's maximum heart rate by age. Usually, it falls in the range between 104 and 111 beats a minute. The participants significantly improved in aerobic fitness on the second test. They walked more quickly and exhibited better balance. The participants were less stiff than they were before the start of the study. Some brain functions showed improvements as well. They had higher scores on a test which measured who well they can focus their attention. The participants also reported less depression and fatigue and were also more positive in life.
"We observed seven to 15 percent improvement in various symptoms that appeared to be clinically meaningful," Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of Iowa doctor and lead researcher Ergun Uc said. "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," he adds. The team compared results from several tests taken before and after six months and the participants showed improvements in fitness, motor function, tiredness, mood, thinking abilities and memory.
More investigation is needed as the study did not observe a control group but it still showed that these people can do aerobic walking safely. The 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week recommended by the federal government are hardly followed by Americans.