Weight training improves tremors for Parkinson’s patients, finds study

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Parkinson’s disease symptoms of tremor improve with weight training, finds an important new study.

Researchers from the  American Academy of Neurology said in a media release, “While we have known that many different types of exercise can benefit Parkinson’s patients over short time periods, we did not know whether exercise improves the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s over the long term.

Daniel Corcos, PhD, with the University of Illinois at Chicago and colleagues studied 48 patients wit Parkinson's disease who underwent progressive resistance training - weight training - for one hour, twice a week for two years.  

A second group of patients with Parkinson’s disease were assigned flexibility, balance and stretching exercises, known as fitness counts.

The researchers measured progress when the patients were off their medications, using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) after six, 12, 18 and 24 months.  The scale measures the severity of symptoms of tremor that are a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

Weight training lead to a 7.3% improvement on the UPBRS score after two years. Both groups improved at six months, but patients that performed fitness count exercises return to the same score assigned at the start of the study.

“Our results suggest that long-term weight training could be considered by patients and doctors as an important component in managing Parkinson’s disease,” said Corcos.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, consider speaking with your doctor about starting a weight training program. 

The study showed patients with Parkinson’s disease experienced significant improvement in symptoms of tremor after two years of performing weight training exercises.

“24 Months of Exercise Improves the Motor Symptoms in Parkinson's Disease”
Daniel Corcos, PhD et al.
February 16, 2012