Effects of resistance training for people with Parkinson's disease: a systematic review

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2013 Apr;14(4):236-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2012.11.012. Epub 2013 Jan 11.


Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a debilitating chronic progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Currently, the treatments for PD are medications to control symptoms, however, the consequences of these motor symptoms cannot be fully eliminated and disability remains. Resistance exercise programs may be an effective strategy to delay or reverse functional decline for people with PD. The aim of this systematic review was to provide a synthesis of the evidence from controlled trials to determine whether resistance training is effective for the treatment of PD.

Method: A comprehensive systematic database search was performed including Medline, Embase, Cinahl, SportDiscus, AMED, Pedro, and PreMedline. Studies were then assessed for potential inclusion. Study quality indicators, cohort characteristics, interventions, and muscle strength and functional performance outcomes were extracted.

Results: Five studies were reviewed; three were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and two were nonrandomized controlled trials. In general, the quality of the studies was moderately robust, with the three RCTs scoring 7-9, whereas the other two studies scored 4 and 6 out of 11 quality criteria. Resistance training was shown to have a positive effect in both muscle strength outcomes as well as functional outcomes related to mobility in this population. Resistance training was shown to increase fat free mass, muscle strength, and endurance as well as improve mobility and performance in functional tasks in this population.

Conclusion: RCTs of robust design prescribing resistance training using thorough, standardized reporting of interventions and outcomes are needed. Further research is needed to identify the ideal prescription of resistance training needed to elicit improvements in strength and functional outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Postural Balance
  • Resistance Training / methods*