The Study Scope
Regular exercise activities like walking, cycling, gardening, cleaning, and sports might reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to new research published in Neurology.
Although the study does not establish a causal link, it shows a significant association between higher levels of exercise and a lower rate of Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers from the Inserm Research Center in Paris studied 95,354 female participants, mostly teachers, over three decades.
At the start, all participants were free from Parkinson’s disease, but by the end of the study, 1,074 of them had developed the condition.
Throughout the study, participants answered up to six questionnaires about their physical activity types and amounts.
Researchers then used the metabolic equivalent of a task (METs) to quantify the energy expenditure for each activity, resulting in a physical activity score in METs-hours per week.
Participants were then divided into four groups based on their physical activity scores.
Those in the highest group (average score of 71 METs-hours per week) saw a 25% lower rate of developing Parkinson’s disease than those in the lowest group (average score of 27 METs-hours per week), even after adjusting for factors such as residence, menstrual history, smoking status, diet, and other medical conditions.
Early Symptoms and Exercise
The researchers also found that physical activity levels declined at a faster rate among those who developed Parkinson’s disease, likely due to early symptoms of the disease.
This suggests that the beneficial effects of exercise weren’t simply due to healthier individuals being more physically active, but that exercise may genuinely help delay or prevent Parkinson’s disease.
The Way Forward
These results, while not establishing causation, provide significant support for the implementation of exercise programs to lower Parkinson’s disease risk.
However, a limitation of the study is that the participants were primarily health-conscious educators who volunteered for a long-term study, so the results may not be entirely representative of the general population.
How to prevent Parkinson’s disease
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, there is no known surefire way to prevent Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition with both genetic and environmental risk factors.
However, certain lifestyle modifications are generally recommended to maintain brain health and may potentially reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
It’s important to note that these recommendations are associated with a healthier lifestyle in general and not solely focused on Parkinson’s prevention:
Regular Exercise: Physical activity, particularly aerobic exercise, is beneficial for brain health. Regular exercise improves overall health and wellness, and it might also help to maintain the health of your brain.
In fact, a study mentioned earlier in our conversation suggested that regular exercise might lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Healthy Diet: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy can help protect your brain.
Some studies suggest that people who consume caffeine (found in coffee, tea, and cola) might have a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, but more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Avoid Exposure to Toxins: Long-term exposure to certain environmental toxins, such as pesticides or industrial chemicals, may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
While it’s not always possible to completely avoid these toxins, it’s important to minimize exposure where possible.
Regular Check-ups: Regular medical check-ups can help detect health issues early and allow you to manage them appropriately. This is particularly important if you have a family history of Parkinson’s disease.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is linked with a myriad of health issues, including an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Don’t Smoke: While it may seem counterintuitive, some studies have found that smoking appears to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, the health risks of smoking far outweigh any potential protective effects.
Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to numerous health problems and should be avoided.
The relationship between alcohol and Parkinson’s risk is not clear, but a moderate intake is generally recommended for overall health.
It’s essential to discuss any changes to your lifestyle or health concerns with a healthcare professional.
They can provide personalized advice based on your specific health needs and risk factors. It’s also important to note that while these strategies can help maintain overall health, they do not guarantee the prevention of Parkinson’s disease.
If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, and findings of MIND and Mediterranean diets could help delay Parkinson’s Disease.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing COVID-19 may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.
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