People with Parkinson’s disease could benefit from a programme of weight training, new research suggests.
A US study found that sufferers who were assigned to do weight training were better able to control their physical symptoms over a period of two years.
Exercises such as dance and Tai Chi have long been recommended to help keep Parkinson’s symptoms at bay.
Experts at the charity Parkinson’s UK say that regular exercise helps sufferers by strengthening muscles, increasing joint mobility and building up general fitness levels. In the US, the National Parkinson Foundation recommends a similar system called Fitness Counts.
But the latest research indicates that weight training reduces symptoms more effectively and for longer than these types of exercise programme.
While the effects of Fitness Counts appeared to wear off over time, participants who were given weight training were better able to control their physical symptoms until the end of the two-year study.
The findings are due to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology annual conference in New Orleans.
Professor Daniel Corcos, from the University of Illinois in Chicago, said: “The neuromuscular system responds to overload. The progressive resistance program continues to challenge the neuromuscular system. Fitness Counts does not.
“I also think, but can not prove, that there is a motivational component. Many people lose interest in repeating the same exercise over and over again but respond to that challenge of getting stronger.”