Exercise should be a life-long commitment to avoid physical and
cognitive decline. A new research now suggests that this is also true for
individuals with Parkinson's Disease (PD).
A comprehensive review published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease
confirms that people living with Parkinson's disease can benefit
from being physically active, especially when it comes to improving gait
and balance, and reducing risks of falls.
‘People living with Parkinson's disease can benefit from being physically active, especially when it comes to improving gait and balance, and reducing risks of falls.’
It concludes that health
professionals should be confident about prescribing physical activity to
improve the health and quality of life of PD patients.
Christian Duval, Professor,
Département des sciences de l'activité physique, Université du Québec á
Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada, said, "Despite the progressive nature of
the disease, people living with PD can expect to improve their physical
condition by being more physically active."
Because PD prevalence will likely increase in future, in part due to
life-extending treatments now available, interventions aimed at
minimizing morbidity are crucial to reducing the strain on the
healthcare system and improving the quality of life for PD patients.
With both aging and living with PD associated with increased sedentary
behaviors, these results should encourage patients to become more
physically active and caregivers, and healthcare providers to facilitate
Investigators conducted an in-depth analysis of 106 studies
conducted over the past 30 year, which resulted in a significant number
of outcome measures - 868. This provides a clear picture of the current
scientific knowledge regarding to the effects of physical activity on
the health of people living with PD.
By grouping these outcomes into four main categories,
capacities (eg. strength, flexibility),
(2) physical and cognitive
functional capacities (eg. gait, mobility, cognitive functions),
clinical symptoms of PD (eg. rigidity, tremor, posture alterations), and
(4) psychosocial aspects of life (quality of life and health
they could determine whether physical activity had a
positive effect on each category. They further subdivided these
categories into subcategories to look for specific benefits at a more
PA was most effective for benefiting physical capacity and physical
and cognitive functional capacity. Physical capacity includes
subcategories such as limb strength, endurance, flexibility or range of
motion, motor control, and metabolic function. More than 55% of all
studies found positive effects in these two main categories.
subcategories, such as upper limb strength, saw improvement in almost
67% of all studies. The results in subcategories of cognitive function
were low, but the researchers note that there were only nine studies
that measured cognitive improvement from PA for PD patients. This might
indicate that further research in this area is needed.
The connection between PA and clinical symptoms of PD, and
psychosocial aspects of life, are less clear, with only 50% and 45.3% of
results reporting positive effects, respectively. In the clinical
symptoms of PD category, both the highest (motor evaluation, gait and
posture alterations) and lowest (bradykinesia, freezing and tremor)
effectiveness rates were found across the subcategories.
"In addition, to confirm the positive role of physical activity for
patients with PD, this study has identified areas in which more
research is needed. As such it will serve as a guide for future
investigations," added Jean-Francois Daneault, co-author and
postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.
Co-investigator Martine Lauzé, of the Center de recherche de
l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, Montréal, Québec,
Canada, added "Fortunately, studies show that all people may benefit
from being more physically active, no matter their age and condition, it
is never too late to start!"