Study: Parkinson’s Risk Lower for Active Men

April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. New research shows exercise, in addition to being good for the body, may also be good for the brain when it comes to preventing Parkinson’s disease.

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CLEVELAND – We all know that exercise does a body good.

According to a recent study, exercise may also have a protective effect when it comes to preventing Parkinson’s disease – a chronic, progressive disease of the brain.

“The risk of developing Parkinson’s was essentially 21 percent less if you exercised than if you didn’t,” said Benjamin Walter, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic who did not take part in the research. 

The study looked at data on more than half a million adults over a 12 year period.

Researchers found that men who did any physical activity reduced their risk of Parkinson’s – but the more activity they did, the more their risk was lowered.

Parkinson’s disease is more common in men than it is in women.

The risk of developing Parkinson’s disease increases with age, impacting approximately one percent of the population over the age of 60.

Dr. Walter said these results are consistent with several other studies that suggest exercise is beneficial for the brain and for preventing Parkinson’s.

He said this is good news for people who either have Parkinson’s or are worried about developing brain disease with aging.

While there are genetic factors that impact our risk for brain disease, Dr. Walter said that studies, such as this one, show us that there are things that we can do to take control of our health risks.

“If you have early Parkinson’s, this is something that there’s a lot of data from – supported by this and other studies – that show that exercising improves the outcome, may improve the progression of the disease, and can improve symptoms and disability,” he said. 

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Network Open.



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