Aerobic Exercise and Parkinson’s Disease

Exercise is found to be very beneficial for Parkinson’s Disease. It improves the motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s and their daily life functions. It also prevents the death of neurons and enhances the formation of new neurons. In animal models, exercise is found to increase the growth of brain cells, dopamine release and decrease toxic-induced neuroinflammation.

A study in 2012 compared the effects of 3 different exercise programs on Parkinson’s Disease. 121 participants were randomly assigned to either Flexibility/Balance/Function Group, supervised Aerobic group, or a home exercise group for 16 weeks. The study measured the economy of walking, which is the amount of oxygen people use while walking on the treadmill, as well as the symptom severity using Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale. The results showed that all 3 groups did not show aggravation in symptom severity, which means exercise can slow symptom progression of Parkinson’s. Flexibility/Balance/Function group showed the greatest short term benefits, while the Aerobic training group showed significant long term benefit and improved walking economy.

Another recent study in 2018 also concluded that high-intensity treadmill exercise is feasible and safe for Parkinson’s Disease. The high-intensity group also had better UPDRS Motor score, meaning higher intensity is better for improving motor symptoms.

My Rehab Team Physiotherapist are able to help develop a personalized exercise program for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Contact us on 1300 469 734 or for more information.

Schenkman, M., Hall, D. A., Barón, A. E., Schwartz, R. S., Mettler, P., & Kohrt, W. M. (2012). Exercise for people in early- or mid-stage Parkinson disease: a 16-month randomized controlled trial. Physical therapy, 92(11), 1395–1410.

Schenkman, M., Moore, C. G., Kohrt, W. M., Hall, D. A., Delitto, A., Comella, C. L., Josbeno, D. A., Christiansen, C. L., Berman, B. D., Kluger, B. M., Melanson, E. L., Jain, S., Robichaud, J. A., Poon, C., & Corcos, D. M. (2018). Effect of High-Intensity Treadmill Exercise on Motor Symptoms in Patients With De Novo Parkinson Disease: A Phase 2 Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA neurology, 75(2), 219–226.