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Research Review: Benefits of High Intensity Exercise for PD



A recent (2019) study in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences looked at the effect of an 8-week high intensity aerobic exercise intervention on Timed Up and Go (TUG) performance in PD.


The TUG is a simple test used to assess mobility and requires both static and dynamic balance. The TUG looks at performance in standing, walking, turning and sitting.


Fifty-nine participants with idiopathic PD completed 24 aerobic exercise sessions over 8 weeks.


Two modes of exercise were utilized: forced exercise and voluntary exercise.


In forced exercise, participants were required to perform at a rate of high aerobic intensity. In voluntary exercise, participants could go at their own pace.


Participants were tested during “off“ medication times at: 1) baseline, prior to any exercise intervention, and 2) after completion of exercise treatment.


At baseline, the forced exercise group completed the TUG significantly faster (8.0 seconds) than the voluntary exercise group (9.41 seconds). After completing the exercise intervention, the voluntary group decreased TUG time to 8.9 seconds.


Both exercise groups demonstrated significant improvements in Turning Velocity, time of Gait phase and Stand-Sit duration.


Overall mobility in participants with PD was significantly improved after high intensity aerobic exercise training.


Improvements in turning and gait speed, and in Stand-Sit times indicate exercise is effective in improving functional aspects of mobility that are often associated with falls and quality of life measures.


These results support the use of high intensity aerobic exercise for improving functional mobility in people with PD.

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