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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

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All Kinds of Exercise May Be Good for Parkinson's

Testing Exercise in Parkinson's Disease continued...

People in the stretching/resistance training group also saw their walking speed improve. They added an average of 107 feet to the distance they could cover in six minutes.

Surprisingly, people who pushed themselves on the treadmill, walking at a brisk pace and on an incline, didn’t see as big a change in their walking pace as the other two groups. By the end of the study, they covered about 77 more feet in six minutes than they had when the study started.

In another surprise, better performance on the six-minute walking test didn’t translate to improvements in daily functioning at home or to less disability overall. Study researchers say they aren’t sure why people didn’t feel more of a difference in their daily lives, though they note that the tests they used might not have been able to capture the improvements.

“This data suggests that a combination of different types of exercise -- treadmill training and resistance training -- may achieve the greatest benefits,” says researcher Lisa Shulman, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Dorsey says he’s seen exercise work wonders for his own patients.

“I have patients who are probably more active now than they ever were before they were diagnosed,” he says. “And some of my patients look all for the world like they don’t have Parkinson’s disease. So this is really something that people can develop and own, and gain better control of a bad disease.”

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