A recently published study in Neurology showed that higher levels of physical activity were associated with a lower incidence of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) in a large cohort of women. In the study, which included data from ~100,000 French women, researchers analyzed the trajectories of physical activity over three decades for patients before they were diagnosed, as compared to matched controls.
The study participants were born between 1925 and 1950 and included women from a cohort study in France. Researchers collected lifestyle and medical history via self-reported surveys at baseline. Thereafter, participants completed follow-up surveys assessing various household, recreational, and exercise activities every two to three years from 1990 to 2018.
Results demonstrated that women in the highest quartile of physical activity had a 25% lower incidence of PD than those in the lowest quartile of physical activity (HR 0.75, 95% CI 0.63–0.89, P trend=0.001). Researchers adjusted for BMI, high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and potential prodromal symptoms of PD patients affecting physical activity levels. After adjusting for these covariates, the inverse relationship between physical activity and incidence of Parkinson’s disease remained.
Researchers concluded that study results “suggest that physical activity may help prevent or delay Parkinson’s disease onset, possibly by slowing Parkinson’s disease pathologic processes.”
Potential mechanisms that might explain beneficial effects of physical activity for PD continue to be explored.