Exercise for Parkinson's disease

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2019:147:1-44. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2019.06.001. Epub 2019 Jun 27.


Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease with a prevalence rate of 1-2 per 1000 of the population worldwide. Pharmacological management is the mainstay of treatment. Despite optimal medication, motor impairment particularly balance and gait impairment persist leading to various degree of disability and reduced quality-of-life. The present review describes motor impairment including postural impairment, gait dysfunction, reduced muscle strength and aerobic capacity and falls. Physical therapy and complementary exercises have been proven to improve motor performance and functional mobility. Evidence on the efficacy of physical therapy and complementary exercises is presented in this review. These exercises include gait training with cues, gait training with treadmill, Nordic walking, brisk walking, balance training, virtual reality interventions, Tai Chi and dance. All these treatment interventions produce short-term beneficial effects and some interventions demonstrate long-term benefit. Gait training with treadmill enhance walking performance and the effects sustain for 3-6 months. Balance training improves balance, function and reduces fall rate, and these effects carry over to at least 12 months after training ended. Sustained Tai Chi for 6 months, dance therapy for 12 months, progressive resistive training for 24 months alleviates the PD motor symptoms, suggesting that they could slow down PD progression. Based on this evidence, individuals with PD are encouraged to sustain their training in order to improve/maintain their physical ability and to combat the progression of PD.

Keywords: Balance; Exercises; Falls; Gait; Muscle strength; Parkinson's disease; Physical therapy; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*