Effects of exercise on cognitive and physical functions in individuals with Parkinson's disease
Barna, Manuela Cristina
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Introduction. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by progressive loss of motor function, followed by behavioral, physiological, and cognitive modifications in a great proportion of patients. Exercise is considered a valuable tool in improving or delaying the progression of motor and cognitive aspects of the disease. However, the optimal delivery content of exercise for people with PD has not been identified yet. The purposes of this study were to compare two groups of individuals with PD without dementia on: 1) executive function following 12 weeks exercise intervention at two different frequencies; and 2) physical function as measured by the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), following 12 weeks of exercise training at two different weekly frequencies. Methods. Twenty three individuals (mean age = 68.60 yr. ± 5.8 yr.) with stage 2 - 3 PD without dementia that exercised 4 - 5 times per week were compared to twenty individuals with PD without dementia (mean age = 67.65 yr. ± 4.5 yr.) that exercised three times or less each week. Results. N-back response time data were analyzed through a mixed factorial ANOVA with time and load as the within – subjects factors. Results indicated a significant interaction between time and group, F (1, 41) = 14.96, p ˂ .001, suggesting an improvement in working memory response time for participants in the high - frequency group following the exercise intervention. Global switch costs data were analyzed through a mixed factorial ANOVA with time as the within – subjects factor. Results revealed a significant interaction between time and group F (1, 41) = 5.53, p ˂ .05, , with the high – frequency group showing smaller switch costs after the exercise. Also, analyses revealed a significant interaction between time and group for the SPPB summary scores, F (1, 41) = 8.37, p ˂ .05, . Conclusions. These findings indicate that changes in executive and physical functions in individuals with early – moderate Parkinson’s disease depend on a specific frequency of exercise, with higher frequencies triggering more benefits than lower ones. Future research should focus on identifying the types and frequencies of exercise with the most promising effects for this population.