A brisk walk may improve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, according to a US study.
Researchers found people with mild to moderate Parkinson's who regularly walk for exercise may improve their motor function, mood, tiredness, fitness and some aspects of thinking abilities.
Study author Doctor Ergun Uc, of the University of Iowa in the United States, 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.' The study included 60 people who took part in sessions of walking at moderate intensity while wearing heart rate monitors three times a week for 45 minutes per session for six months. The participants also took tests that measured their motor function, aerobic fitness, mood, tiredness, and memory and thinking abilities.
The average walking speed was about 2.9 miles per hour, and participants were exercising at 47 per cent of their heart rate reserve, which meets the definition of moderate intensity aerobic exercise. The study found that brisk walking improved motor function and mood by 15 per cent, attention and response control scores by 14 per cent, reduced tiredness by 11 per cent, and increased aerobic fitness and gait speed by seven per cent.
On the test of motor function, participants improved by an average of 2.8 points, which is considered a clinically important difference. Dr Uc added: 'People with mild-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.' He said the results, published in the online issue of the journal Neurology, need to be confirmed in a randomised study with a control group.