A new study supports a large body of earlier research. This focused on exercise and falls in Parkinson’s. Sixty percent of Parkinson’s patients fall each year, and two-thirds of these fall repeatedly. Falls lead to injuries, pain, and fear of falling limits activities and reduces quality of life. Exercise programs have been shown to be effective in preventing falls in the general older population.

In the new Parkinson’s study, the program was 3 times a week for 6 weeks, with 40 to 60 minutes of balance and leg strengthening exercises, mostly unsupervised and mostly done at home. The number of falls was reduced among patients with less severe Parkinson’s but not with more severe. The reduction was almost 70% early in the course. Benefits of exercise wear off after 6 to 8 weeks, so it must be done regularly. One study in fact showed that exercising is as effective as adding another Parkinson’s medication.

Jack Florin, MD

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