How might physical activity benefit patients with Parkinson disease?

Nat Rev Neurol. 2011 Jul 12;7(9):528-34. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2011.107.


Parkinson disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive motor and nonmotor impairments. These impairments incline many patients towards a sedentary lifestyle, which has many deleterious consequences. Accumulating evidence suggests that patients with PD might benefit from physical activity and exercise in a number of ways, from general improvements in health to disease-specific effects and, potentially, disease-modifying effects (suggested by animal data). Many issues remain to be addressed, including the need to perform clinical trials to demonstrate these presumed benefits of physical activity and exercise in patients with PD. These trials must also address safety issues, such as an increased risk of falls and cardiovascular complications in more-active patients. Identifying ways to induce a sustained behavioral change, using specifically tailored programs that address potential barriers such as depression, apathy and postural instability, may lead to an improved quality of life in individuals with PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Constipation / prevention & control
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / prevention & control


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Levodopa
  • Dopamine