Lisa M Shulman Professor Though there are several positive benefits of walking, one more positive aspect has recently been observed. According to researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Baltimore VA Medical Center, exercise with low intensity improves walking for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

From the study’s perspective, patients who legged on a treadmill at a comfortable speed for a longer duration were observed enhancing their walking more when compared with patients who walked for less time with an increased speed. The analysis involved 67 people with Parkinson’s disease who were randomly assigned either walking on a treadmill at low intensity for 50 minutes, or higher-intensity treadmill training to enhance cardiovascular fitness for 30 minutes, or using weights and stretching exercises to improve muscle strengthen and range of motion.

“Our study showed that low-intensity exercise performed for 50 minutes three times a week was the most beneficial in terms of helping participants improve their mobility. Walking difficulty is the major cause of disability in Parkinson’s disease. These results show that exercise in people with Parkinson’s disease can make a difference in their function. Exercise may, in fact, delay disability and help to preserve independence,” shared Lisa Shulman, M.D., principal investigator and professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

In the study, enrolled participants exercised three times a week for three months under the supervision of exercise physiologists at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. In order to reach a conclusion, investigators at the Maryland measured participants’ cardiovascular fitness before and after training.

“Many patients ask us what kind of exercise they should be doing. Now we can tell them that this research shows that low-intensity walking, which most people with Parkinson’s can do, combined with stretching and resistance training may be the best option,” added Dr. Shulman, who is also co-director of the Maryland Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Apparently, the study discovered cardiovascular improvement in both the low- and high-intensity groups. The distance covered in a six-minute walk and timed tests of walking short distances such as 50 feet were included under other measurements.

“The results of this study provide practical information to people with Parkinson’s disease to make decisions about managing their health and well-being. Our University of Maryland faculty members are committed to testing new approaches, such as exercise, to help patients,” quoted E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, and dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The results of the recently conducted study were presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Honolulu.