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Walking to beat 'can help Parkinson’s symptoms'

Walking to a beat could help relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease’, the Daily Mail has reported.

In reality, this story is based on research that examined how the walking style of 15 healthy people changed in the presence of different types of rhythm. It did not study Parkinson’s disease, or Parkinson’s-like symptoms. The researchers were particularly interested in what is known as ‘gait’ – a combination of physical movement, balance and co-ordination we employ when walking.

They found that, compared to walking with no external beat, when the participants walked while listening to a regular rhythm through headphones, their stride became more regular and aligned to the beat.

Not all of the changes to gait were positive, however. When listening to a regular beat, some components, including steadiness, became worse.

The researchers also wanted to see if other types of rhythmic cues, such as a blinking light or a regular vibration, could have an effect on gait, but no significant effect (either positive or negative) was detected.

The researchers suggest that their findings may be useful for future physical rehabilitation practices, however, until further research is done, this remains speculation.

As this experiment was carried out in a small number of young, healthy subjects who were unaffected by Parkinson’s disease, it’s direct impact for people with Parkinson’s is unclear.

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