Weekly Regimens of Physical, Cognitive Exercises Shown to Slightly Improve Symptoms of Parkinson Disease

December 30, 2019

The motor and non-motor symptoms of patients with Parkinson Disease were shown to slightly improve with a weekly exercise regimen of physical and cognitive exercises, according to research presented at Future Physiology 2019.

The motor and non-motor symptoms of patients with Parkinson Disease (PD) were shown to improve with a weekly exercise regimen of physical and cognitive exercises, according to research presented this month at The Physiological Society early career conference, Future Physiology 2019: Translating Cellular Mechanisms into Lifelong Health Strategies.

Over time, symptom recurrence of PD has been shown to affect nearly 90% of patients, causing a significant impact on quality of life and financial stability. Previous research exhibited that either physical or cognitive exercises are effective at improving and sustaining cognitive/physical function in patients with PD (PwP), however the distinct benefit of different types of exercise on motor and non-motor symptoms has yet to be examined.

Researchers at the University of Kent sought to analyze the long-term effects of multi-modal (MM) exercises (e.g. circuit training) in PD, as well as compare results to non-exercise-attendees with PD (na-PD) and healthy older adults. The study authors developed a weekly community-based MM exercise session for PD to evaluate its effects on function, cognition, and well-being outcomes across a 3-year period:

  • Study included 25 PwP (male = 20; female = 5; age 64±8 years) who had Hoehn and Yahr (H&Y) scores ≤ 3, indicating mild to moderate PD
  • Participants attended a once-a-week MM group exercise session (60 minutes) for over 1 year
  • A battery of health and functional assessments were completed at the start and every 4 months for 1 (n = 25), 2 (n = 18), and 3 years (n = 8)

Results were compared to an aged-matched group of 20 HOA (8 male, 12 female; age 61±6 years) and 20 na-PD (12 male, 8 female; age 68±7 years; H&Y scores ≤ 3) to evaluate the rate of functional and cognitive decline not influenced by the exercise session.

Study results showed a significant impact of the once-a-week MM exercise program for PD on 1-minute sit-to-stands (STS) during 1 year between baseline (STS = 21) and after the first 4 months (STS = 23; P = .001), as well on mini-mental parkinson (MMP) scores that increased between baseline (MMP = 26.67) and after 8 months (MMP = 29.38; P = .004). However, no other significant changes in health, cognition, and physical function was observed, with exercise showing to reduce the difference in outcome scores between PwP and HOA.

While results showed slight improvements, lead study author Anna Ferrusola-Pastrana, PhD student at the University of Kent, stressed that these positive outcomes serve as vital to treating the progressive nature of PD. "Finding the right set of exercises, both cognitive and physical, to improve Parkinson's treatment is an important step towards giving Parkinson's patients a better quality of life. This research is working towards honing this set of exercises, which can then potentially be performed by patients, with or without assistance at home," said Ferrusola-Pastrana.

Reference

Ferrusola-Pastrana A, Meadows S, Davison G, et al. Oral Communications: Can a Weekly Multi-Modal Exercise Class Preserve Motor and Non-Motor Function in Parkinson’s? Presented at: Future Physiology 2019 (2019). Proc Physiol Soc 45, C20.