Three times a week of high-intensity exercise is safe for those with early-stage Parkinson’s disease, and can help slow the worsening of symptoms, according to a study published recently in JAMA Neurology.

The randomized clinical trial—called the Study in Parkinson Disease of Exercise (SPARX)—included 128 participants, ages 40 to 80 years old, all of whom were at an early stage of the disease and were not taking Parkinson’s disease medication.

It was conducted at Rush University Medical Center, Northwestern University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Pittsburgh.

In the study, explains a media release from Rush University Medical Center, the researchers examined the safety and effects of exercise three times weekly for six months at high intensity (80% to 85% of maximum heart rate) and moderate intensity (60% to 65% of maximum heart rate). They compared the results to a control group who did not exercise.

“The study results suggest that people who exercised at high intensity delayed the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms, while moderate intensity workouts had no effect,” says Dr Deborah Hall, associate professor in the Rush Department of Neurology and a co-lead author of the study results, in the release.

The results warrant further exploration of the optimal exercise regimes for Parkinson‘s disease and to evaluate whether exercise could slow progression of the disease itself, according to the researchers.

“The earlier in the disease you intervene, the more likely it is you can prevent the progression of the disease,” said co-lead author Daniel Corcos, PhD, professor of physical therapy and human movement sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in the release. “We delayed worsening of symptoms for six months. Whether we can prevent progression any longer than six months will require further study.”

[Source(s): Rush University Medical Center, Newswise]