Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 242-249

Role of physical activity in Parkinson's disease

Department of Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Louis C S. Tan
Department of Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute, 308433
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_169_18

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Parkinson's disease (PD) is common, age-dependent neurodegenerative disorder caused by a severe loss of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. Given the projected increase in the number of people with PD over the coming decades, interventions aimed at minimizing morbidity and improve quality of life are crucial. There is currently no fully proven pharmacological therapy that can modify or slow the disease progression. Physical activity (PA) can complement pharmacological therapy to manage the inherent decline associated with the disease. The evidence indicates that upregulation of neurotrophins and nerve growth factors are potentially critical mediators of the beneficial effects associated with PA. Accumulating evidence suggests that patients with PD might benefit from PA in a number of ways, from general improvements in health to disease-specific effects and potentially, disease-modifying effects. Various forms of PA that have shown beneficial effects in PD include – aerobic exercises, treadmill training, dancing, traditional Chinese exercise, yoga, and resistance training. In this review, we explored available research that addresses the impact of exercise and PA on PD. The original articles with randomized control trials, prospective cohort studies, longitudinal studies, meta-analysis, and relevant review articles from 2005 to 2017 were selected for the present review. Many gaps remain in our understanding of the most effective exercise intervention for PD symptoms, the mechanisms underlying exercise-induced changes and the best way to monitor response to therapy. However, available research suggests that exercise is a promising, cost-effective, and low-risk intervention to improve both motor and nonmotor symptoms in patients with PD. Thus, PA should be prescribed and encouraged in all PD patients.

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