Can exercise lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease?

Getting regular exercise such as cycling, walking, gardening, cleaning and participating in sports may decrease the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to new research published in the May 17, 2023, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study found female participants who exercised the most had a 25% lower rate of Parkinson’s disease when compared to those who exercised the least. The study does not prove that exercise lowers the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. It only shows an association.

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“Exercise is a low-cost way to improve health overall, so our study sought to determine if it may be linked to a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating disease that has no cure,” said study author Alexis Elbaz, MD, PhD, of the Inserm Research Center in Paris, France. “Our results provide evidence for planning interventions to prevent Parkinson’s disease.”

The study included 95,354 female participants, mostly teachers, with an average age of 49 who did not have Parkinson’s disease at the start of the study. Researchers followed participants for three decades during which 1,074 participants developed Parkinson’s disease.

Over the course of the study, participants completed up to six questionnaires about the types and amounts of physical activity they were getting. They were asked how far they walked and how many flights of stairs they climbed daily, how many hours they spent on household activities as well as how much time they spent doing moderate recreational activities such as gardening and more vigorous activities such as sports.

Researchers assigned each activity a score based on the metabolic equivalent of a task (METs), a way to quantify energy expenditure. For each activity, METs were multiplied by their frequency and duration to obtain a physical activity score of METs-hours per week. For example, a more intense form of exercise like cycling was six METs, while less intense forms of exercise such as walking and cleaning were three METs. The average physical activity level for participants was 45 METs-hours per week at the start of the study.


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5 responses to “Can exercise lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease?

  1. Based on reading I have done and following posts by Gary Sharpe, a Leeds University researcher who himself deals with Parkinsons, suggests that PD has a cure, and for sure the symptoms can be seriously reduced.
    The challenge is understanding the very early indicators of the disease, which seems very closely associate with people dealing with sustained levels of stress.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jean was diagnosed with PD in December, 2015 (the same time as my best friend, Richard, in England) but the cause/s remain unknown to this day. Jean suspects that it was being caught under aerial pesticide spraying much earlier on but that is only a suspicion. Jean is a healthy person having been a vegetarian all her life (and since 2008 a pescatarian in recognition of me joining her and us living together). I would like to follow up Jasper’s remark that a Gary Sharpe has a cure, or better still can you, Tony, do that and make a new post from your findings?

    Liked by 1 person

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