Physical inactivity in Parkinson's disease

J Neurol. 2011 Dec;258(12):2214-21. doi: 10.1007/s00415-011-6097-7. Epub 2011 May 26.


Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) are likely to become physically inactive, because of their motor, mental, and emotional symptoms. However, specific studies on physical activity in PD are scarce, and results are conflicting. Here, we quantified daily physical activities in a large cohort of PD patients and another large cohort of matched controls. Moreover, we investigated the influence of disease-related factors on daily physical activities in PD patients. Daily physical activity data of PD patients (n = 699) were collected in the ParkinsonNet trial and of controls (n = 1,959) in the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA); data were determined using the LAPAQ, a validated physical activity questionnaire. In addition, variables that may affect daily physical activities in PD were recorded, including motor symptoms, depression, disability in daily life, and comorbidity. Patients were physically less active; a reduction of 29% compared to controls (95% CI, 10-44%). Multivariate regression analyses demonstrated that greater disease severity, gait impairment, and greater disability in daily living were associated with less daily physical activity in PD (R (2) = 24%). In this large study, we show that PD patients are about one-third less active compared to controls. While disease severity, gait, and disability in daily living predicted part of the inactivity, a portion of the variance remained unexplained, suggesting that additional determinants may also affect daily physical activities in PD. Because physical inactivity has many adverse consequences, work is needed to develop safe and enjoyable exercise programs for patients with PD.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires