In yet another endorsement for getting on your feet and walking, researchers said Wednesday that people with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease may improve their motor function, mood, fatigue levels and more by taking regular aerobic walks.
"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 lead author of the study said. Dr. Ergun Uc of the University of Iowa and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City and colleagues published their findings in the journal Neurology.
The researchers tracked 49 people ages 50 to 80 who had mild to moderate Parkinson's disease. They wore electronic heart and walking speed monitors, and were asked to keep a diary of their exercise. Some walked in groups, others on their own. Their average walking speed was 2.9 mph.
Over six months, improvement came in aerobic fitness, as it would for most people. But the researchers also reported improvements -- outside of those from any medication -- in motor function, fatigue levels, mood, aspects of executive function and quality of life.
The researchers concluded that people with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease could benefit from following the federal guidelines recommending 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity for people ages 18 to 65.
More work is needed, in part because this study did not include a control group, the researchers noted. But it did demonstrate that this group of people can safely take part in aerobic walking.