Study: Exercise helps in fight against Parkinson's disease

Almost everyone knows that exercise is good for us, whether we're working out to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Now, studies and anecdotal evidence show that it might help fight Parkinson's disease, too.

Proven Benefits for Parkinson's Patients

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise each week, along with at least two days of muscle strengthening activity. These recommendations are for everyone, but National Public Radio reports that Parkinson's sufferers can reap big benefits from both of those types of activities. A 2012 study conducted by the University of Oregon showed that patients with the disease who practiced tai chi two days a week reduced their chances of falling and were able to better control their movements. Study participants who did weight training instead also fell less and had better balance.

Aerobic exercise has shown its effectiveness in curbing Parkinson's symptoms, too. Other studies pinpoint working out on treadmills and cycling as two good ways to cut down the symptoms. The National Parkinson's Foundation says that regular exercise might even slow the progression of this devastating disease. Although scientists don't understand the entire process, working out appears to help the brain use dopamine more efficiently.

Exercise Helps Everyone

You don't have to be a Parkinson's sufferer to reap the benefits of regular exercise. Some of the pluses for everyone, in addition to dropping extra pounds, include cutting the risk of diabetes and heart disease and even fighting depression.

You might worry that you don't have time to exercise for up to 150 minutes each week, but don't despair. The CDC says that exercising is just as effective when done in 10 minute bursts as it is when all activity is done at once. Keep yourself motivated by marking off each mini bout of exercise on your calendar as you work your way to the full recommended amount. As you see the hash marks take over your calendar, your motivation will grow.

It's impossible to know whether you'll develop Parkinson's disease, since the exact causes aren't known. What is known is that exercise is a powerful wellness tool, whether you have it or not.