Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting the physical, psychological, social, and functional status of individuals. Exercise programs may be an effective strategy to delay or reverse functional decline for people with PD and a large body of empirical evidence has emerged in recent years. The objective is to systematically review randomized controlled trials (RCTs) reporting on the effectiveness of exercise interventions on outcomes (physical, psychological or social functioning, or quality of life) for people with PD. RCTs meeting the inclusion criteria were identified by systematic searching of electronic databases. Key data were extracted by two independent researchers. A mixed methods approach was undertaken using narrative, vote counting, and random effects meta-analysis methods. Fourteen RCTs were included and the methodological quality of most studies was moderate. Evidence supported exercise as being beneficial with regards to physical functioning, health-related quality of life, strength, balance and gait speed for people with PD. There was insufficient evidence support or refute the value of exercise in reducing falls or depression. This review found evidence of the potential benefits of exercise for people with PD, although further good quality research is needed. Questions remain around the optimal content of exercise interventions (dosing, component exercises) at different stages of the disease.
2008 Movement Disorder Society