The risk of developing Parkinson's disease may be reduced with moderate to vigorous exercise or other recreational activities, according to recent research presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 28 -- May 5, 2007.
The study followed more than 143,000 people with an average age of 63 over 10 years. In that time, 413 people developed Parkinson's disease. Researchers found that those with moderate to vigorous activity levels were 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than those with no or light activity levels. Those with moderate to vigorous activity were exercising an average of a half hour per day or more.
"This study does not prove that exercise caused the lowered risk of Parkinson's disease -- it's possible that something else lowers the risk," said the study's lead author Evan L. Thacker, SM, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA. "But considering all of the other benefits of exercise, it certainly doesn't hurt to make sure you get some moderate or vigorous exercise several times a week."
The researchers also looked at the participants' activity level at age 40 and found that there was no significant relationship between the level of physical activity at age 40 and the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
"If exercise truly does provide some protection against Parkinson's disease, the protection may be relatively short term," Thacker said. "However, in a previous study with a similar prospective design activity in early adulthood was related to lower risk for Parkinson's disease, so the jury's still out on this one."
The study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institutes of Health.
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