March 23 (UPI) -- Researchers at Northwestern University have found that even small amounts of exercise can have an impact on the progression of Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that causes mobility impairment over time, impacting a person's quality of life and eventually leading to death.
The study found that Parkinson's patients who exercised regularly experienced slower declines in mobility and health-related quality of life, or HRQL, over a two-year period.
"We found that people with Parkinson's disease who maintained exercise 150 minutes per week had a smaller decline in quality of life and mobility over two years compared to people who did not exercise or exercised less," Miriam R. Rafferty, researcher at Northwestern University and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, said in a press release. "The smaller decline was significant for people who started the study as regular exercisers, as well as for people who started to exercise 150 minutes per week after their first study-related visit."
More than 3,400 participants from the National Parkinson Foundation Quality Improvement Initiative, an international clinical study of care and outcomes from 21 sites in North America, the Netherlands and Israel, participated in the two-year study.
Levels of exercise and quality of life measures were self-reported by study participants through questionnaires.
Research did not determine which type of exercise was the most beneficial, but any exercise done for at least 150 minutes a week is helpful. Researchers found that HRQL benefits from 30-minute increases in exercise per week were noted in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease.
"People with PD should feel empowered to find the type of exercise they enjoy, even those with more advanced symptoms," Rafferty said. "The most important part of the study is that it suggests that people who are not currently achieving recommended levels of exercise could start to exercise today to lessen the declines in quality of life and mobility that can occur with this progressive disease."
The study was published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease.