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Physical activity may lower women’s risk of Parkinson’s disease

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Women who regularly exercise may have a 25% lower chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to new research.

A team of French researchers examined data for more than 95,000 women who didn’t have Parkinson’s at the outset of the study. Participants, who were followed for 30 years, completed as many as six questionnaires that asked about the types and amount of their physical activity – including walking, household activities, gardening and playing sports. Each activity was assigned a score based on the typical energy it expended. The women were then divided into four groups based on their average hours of activity per week.

Overall, nearly 1,100 of the women (1.1%) developed Parkinson’s disease. Those in the group that reported the most physical activity were 25% less likely to develop the disease than women in the group who exercised least.

Further, 10 years before diagnosis, physical activity declined at a faster rate among the women with Parkinson’s disease than among those without.

 

“With our large study, not only did we find that female participants who exercise the most have a lower rate of developing Parkinson’s disease, we also showed that early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease were unlikely to explain these findings, and instead that exercise is beneficial and may help delay or prevent this disease,” said Alexis Elbaz, a researcher at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris. “Our results support the creation of exercise programs to help lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease.”

The study was published online in the journal Neurology.

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