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International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
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Regardless of Type, Exercise Improve Quality of Life and Motor Function in People with Parkinson’s Disease

Media Contact: Shea Higgins +1 304-633-3396, 

MILWAUKEE, WI, USA – In a Cochrane systematic review and network meta-analysis of studies of physical interventions (exercise), it was shown that regardless of the specific type of exercise that is studied, there is an overall improvement in measures of quality of life and motor function for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to the analysis released today at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders® in Madrid, Spain. 

This study represents a significant increase in the number of studies focused on the role of exercise in PD. It was noted that 156 studies were evaluated in this study, a substantial increase from a decade prior. The analysis concluded that there was a clear consensus of benefits in motor function and quality of life across studies. Reported safety measures were also evaluated and concluded that the studied exercise was relatively safe with minimal adverse events reported.  

Alice Nieuwboer, professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at KU Leuven, commented, “The current systematic review provides much more positive news about the effects of exercise as a therapeutic strategy. Effect sizes of exercise, which were only deemed small in 2012 and only applied to motor function, show today that movement therapy generates at least moderate effect sizes on motor function and impacts quality of life. What is more, the risks of exercise were found to be low. Therefore, despite detecting considerable risk of bias in the included study material, this review brings the overall positive message that engaging in movement therapy is safe and worth the effort. The next challenge is to address how people with PD across the world can access and take up exercise in the most cost-effective way, particularly in underserved areas.” 

Prof. Nieuwboer continues, “One conclusion from this review deserves some more critical thought. Ernst et al found beneficial effects for most types of exercise and subsequently concluded that ‘any movement counts,’ irrespective of the type of activity. This greatly overestimates the physiological benefits of exercise and underestimates the complexity of delivering it in the context of a heterogenous disease such as PD. More and more, scientific evidence underscores that exercise effects depend on patients’ clinical profiles and on the dose of this activity, which typically needs to be high and progressive.”

Full abstract text: Reference #: 234

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About the 2022 MDS International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders®:
The MDS International Congress is the premier annual event to advance the clinical and scientific discipline of Movement Disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. Convening thousands of leading clinicians, scientists and other health professionals from around the globe, the International Congress will introduce more than 1,500 original scientific abstracts and provide a forum for education and collaboration on latest research findings and state-of-the-art treatment options. 

About the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society: 
The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), an international society of over 11,000 clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about MDS, visit


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