Effects of 2 Years of Exercise on Gait Impairment in People With Parkinson Disease: The PRET-PD Randomized Trial

J Neurol Phys Ther. 2017 Jan;41(1):21-30. doi: 10.1097/NPT.0000000000000163.


Background and purpose: This study presents a secondary analysis from the Progressive Resistance Exercise Training in Parkinson Disease (PRET-PD) trial investigating the effects of progressive resistance exercise (PRE) and a Parkinson disease (PD)-specific multimodal exercise program, modified Fitness Counts (mFC), on spatial, temporal, and stability-related gait impairments in people with PD.

Methods: Forty-eight people with PD were randomized to participate in PRE or mFC 2 times a week for 24 months; 38 completed the study. Gait velocity, stride length, cadence, and double-support time were measured under 4 walking conditions (off-/on-medication, comfortable/fast speed). Ankle strength was also measured off- and on-medication. Twenty-four healthy controls provided comparison data at one time point.

Results: At 24 months, there were no significant differences between exercise groups. Both groups improved fast gait velocity off-medication, cadence in all conditions, and plantarflexion strength off-/on-medication. Both groups with PD had more gait measures that approximated the healthy controls at 24 months than at baseline. Plantarflexion strength was significantly associated with gait velocity and stride length in people with PD at baseline and 24 months, but changes in strength were not associated with changes in gait.

Discussion and conclusions: Twenty-four months of PRE and mFC were associated with improved off-medication fast gait velocity and improved cadence in all conditions, which is important because temporal gait measures can be resistant to medications. Spatial and stability-related measures were resistant to long-term improvements, but did not decline over 24 months. Strength gains did not appear to transfer to gait.Video Abstract available for more insights from the authors (see Supplemental Digital Content 1, http://links.lww.com/JNPT/A161).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Resistance Training