Let’s face it: as a culture, we don’t do a lot of moving. This is reflected in the high numbers of people who are overweight and obese. So many lives fit this description: wake up, roll out of bed, drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home, sit on the sofa, go to bed.
But it’s quite possible that even getting up to perform chores every day, parking at the back of the lot at work, or going for a walk around the block each evening could play a big role in reducing your risk of Parkinson’s disease. In fact, it’s possible that an hour of moderate activity every day could greatly reduce your risk.
Promising Results for Parkinson’s Prevention
A recent study followed 43,000 men and women in Sweden for an average of 12 years. Only nine had Parkinson’s when they enrolled, and almost 300 had developed it by the end of the study. The researchers learned that a medium amount of daily physical activity—like household chores or walking to work—reduced the risk of Parkinson’s substantially. People who got six hours of moderate activity per week had a 43% lower risk than those who got fewer than two.
Now, although there was a link between activity and Parkinson’s risk, this study does not prove cause and effect.
Parkinson’s is a very difficult disease to understand. About a million Americans have it, and right now, there is no known cure and no clear cause of the disease. There is, however, increasing evidence that how you live can reduce your risk of getting it.
What Is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease affects movement. It’s a disorder in the central nervous system that can cause uncontrollable or involuntary movements that typically worsen with age. If you can, think of Michael J. Fox. When he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he displayed little tremors or ticks. His arm may have uncontrollably moved or his head may have spontaneously shaken or bobbed while he spoke.
As the years have gone by, however, his condition has worsened;his head now moves with greater frequency and the movements are almost endless. As you can imagine, it is a very difficult condition to live with. Although not as common, Parkinson’s disease can have the reverse effect on some people, causing muscles to become stiff and slower to move.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Parkinson’s Disease
Because there is no clear cause of the disease—though genetics and environment are thought to play a role—it is wise to take preventative measures. Unfortunately, it’s still unclear exactly what those measure are, but there is evidence to support the notion that diet and exercise play a role. Eating a balanced, protein- and fiber-rich diet is recommended because it helps build muscle and keeps you regular; furthermore, protein can help the absorption of popular Parkinson’s medications.
Getting plenty of fruit and vegetables to supply vitamins and fiber are also important to promote a highly functioning body and digestive system (constipation is a common problem for Parkinson’s patients). So in addition to moderate activity, eating a vitamin- and protein-rich diet can also have some preventative effects.
Also Read : Can Simple Lifestyle Changes Fix Your Arthritis?
Include Activity in Your Day
Including activity in your daily routine is highly recommended—and not just to possibly prevent Parkinson’s disease. Activity can also help you:
- Lose weight
- Lower blood pressure
- Build strength
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
Try scheduling an hour per day when you’re upon your feet and moving around.
You don’t have to be exercising hard or even breaking a sweat; just get some activity. Walking around the block, walking to the grocery store or work instead of driving, cleaning the house, gardening, or even sweeping all fall under the umbrella of moderate activity. The benefits of getting up for an hour a day are well worth it!
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Diet and Parkinson’s Disease,” Michael J. Fox Foundation web site; https://www.michaeljfox.org/understanding-parkinsons/living-with-pd/topic.php?nutrition, last accessed December 18, 2014.
“Eating Right with Parkinson’s Disease,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/guide/eating-right, last accessed December 18, 2014.
Preidt, R., “Daily Physical Activity May Help Lower Parkinson’s Risk,” MedlinePlus web site, November 25, 2014; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_149657.html.