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Exercise helps prevent, fight Parkinson's disease, from the Harvard Health Letter

March 3, 2012

Parkinson's is a brain disease that affects the body and how it moves. Early symptoms include tremors, a shuffling gait, and an overall slowing of physical movement. Yet exercise may be one of the best — and most underutilized — ways of combating the condition, according to the March 2012 Harvard Health Letter.

Several prospective studies that followed tens of thousands of people for many years have shown a correlation between exercise earlier in life and a reduced chance of developing Parkinson's later on. Exercising in your 30s and 40s — decades before Parkinson's typically occurs — may reduce the risk of getting Parkinson's disease by about 30%, notes the Health Letter. Some experts believe the exercise must be vigorous to make a difference. However, because this kind of research can't prove cause and effect, there is the possibility of "reverse causation": that is, exercise may not prevent Parkinson's disease, but instead a very early "preclinical" form of the disease, without clear symptoms, may make people less willing or able to exercise in the first place.

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