Exercise for Parkinson's Disease and General Health

In the first ever comprehensive study of strenuous physical activity and the risk of Parkinson's disease, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that men who exercised regularly and vigorously early in their adult life had a lower risk for developing Parkinson's disease compared to men who did not.

The findings appeared several years ago in the February 22, 2005 issue of the Journal of Neurology. Visit the preceding link for more information, articles and studies on Parkinson's Disease. Men who were the most physically active at the start of the study cut their risk of developing Parkinson's disease by 50 percent compared to male study participants who were the least physically active.

The researchers also found that men who reported regularly strenuous physical activity in early adult life cut the risk for Parkinson's by 60 percent compared to those who did not. Alberto Ascherio, senior author and associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said: "These are intriguing and promising findings that suggest that physical activity may contribute to the prevention of Parkinson's. With a little creativity and planning, even the busiest people can make room for physical activity. Think about your daily schedule and look for opportunities to be more active. Every little bit helps - so here are some helpful tips:

  • Walk, cycle, jog, skate, etc., to work, school, the store, or place of worship.
  • Park the car farther away from your destination.
  • Get on or off the bus several blocks away.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Play with children or pets. Everybody wins.
  • Take fitness breaks - walk or stretch.
  • Perform gardening or home repair activities.
  • Turn off the self-propel option on your lawn mower or vacuum cleaner.
  • Use leg power-take small trips on foot to get your body moving.
  • Exercise while watching TV using hand weights or a stationary bicycle.
  • Dance to music.
  • Walk while doing errands. 
We also encourage stretching exercises as an important part of an exercise routine.
We especially reach out to parents everywhere and encourage you to guide your children towards more physical activity. The lifestyle that your children learn from you will likely stay with them their entire lives. By encouraging you children to be active, to run and play, to ride their bikes and to participate in organized sports - you can put them on a path that offers life long health benefits.

Updated 10/31/18

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