Thursday, May 03, 2018

Exercise, Parkinson disease and dementia

Parkinson disease is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative condition; after many years, dementia or medication-refractory motor symptoms may develop.

A myriad of animal studies document a direct, favorable effect of aerobic-type exercise on the brain; this includes liberation of neurotrophic hormones and enhancement of a variety of neuroplasticity mechanisms. Exercise tends to protect animals from neurotoxins that induce parkinsonism.

Long-term exercise and fitness in healthy humans is associated with greater volumes of cerebral cortex and hippocampus and less age-related white matter pathology.

Midlife exercise is associated with a significantly reduced later risk of Parkinson disease.

Conclusion from this evidence: Regular aerobic-type exercise tending to lead to fitness is the single strategy with compelling evidence for slowing Parkinson disease progression. All patients with Parkinson disease should be encouraged to engage in regular such exercise.

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