A small study reveals walking could prove beneficial to those suffering from Parkinson's disease and help ease the symptoms as well as boost overall health.
While the research team warns much greater investigation is required as the study group was small, they say walking on a regular steady basis each week can likely improve motor function, help stem fatigue and provide greater control over body motion.
The study, "Phase I/II randomized trial of aerobic exercise in Parkinson disease in a community setting," was published in the July 2 issue of Neurology.
"Our preliminary study suggests that aerobic walking in a community setting is safe, well tolerated, and improves aerobic fitness, motor function, fatigue, mood, executive control, and quality of life in mild to moderate PD," states the study's conclusions.
The six-month study involved 60 senior citizens suffering from mild to moderate Parkinsons. Each walked three times a week, walking 45 minutes each time. Participants completed surveys about symptoms and tests related to exercise. Researchers say those who completed the study programs gained better control over movements, were less fatigued and felt more optimistic.
"People with mild-[to]-moderate Parkinson's who do not have dementia and are able to walk independently, without a cane or walker, can safely follow the recommended exercise guidelines for healthy adults, which includes 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity, and experience benefits," said Dr. Ergun Y. Uc, MD, of the University of Iowa and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center of Iowa City, who was this study's lead author.
For the first six weeks walking time lasted 15 minutes and then eventually lasted to 45 minutes. Those involved wore monitors to measure heart rate and walking speed. They also kept a journal in which they expressed how the walking regimen was impacting their lives. Ten of the participants dropped out of the study during the program.
Uc said "[t]he 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.
Published reports state that 1 million people in the United States have Parkinson's disease, which has no known cause or cure. Symptoms include trembling in the hands, jaws, face, arms and legs.