To help Parkinson’s patients reduce the burden of motor symptoms and improve their quality of life, participation in physical exercise may be more important than any particular type of activity prescribed, according to a new analysis of clinical trials.

Investigators reviewed the results of 156 randomized controlled trials with more than 7,900 participants. Aqua-based, gait, balance, functional and multi‐domain training had a moderate beneficial effect on the severity of motor symptoms, as did dance exercise, the researchers found. 

Mind‐body training and endurance training may also have “a small beneficial effect,” on motor symptoms and flexibility training had “a trivial or no effect” on severity, the evidence showed. Notably, the evidence was “very uncertain” about the usefulness of strength and/or resistance training and a proprietary voice training program (LSVT BIG) on the severity of motor signs.

Aqua-based training likely has a large beneficial effect on quality of life, the studies also showed, with other types of training and intervention having varied impact.

In addition, exercise training in general appeared to be quite safe, the reviewers reported. The most frequently reported adverse events during the trials were falls (18 studies) and pain (10 studies). 

Despite these many nuances, there was little evidence of any major differences between the physical exercise interventions in their effect on motor symptom severity or quality of life.  

The review highlights the importance of physical exercise in managing motor symptoms and quality of life in Parkinson’s disease, the researchers wrote.

Although exercise type may not be as important as exercise itself, the review results are “consistent with the possibility that specific motor symptoms may be treated most effectively by Parkinson’s disease‐specific programs,” they added.

The study was published in Cochrane Reviews.

Related articles:

Two hours of weekly exercise helps patients with Parkinson’s maintain mobility

Boxing helps those with Parkinson’s knock out symptoms