Parkinson’s disease and intensive exercise therapy — An updated systematic review and meta‐analysis

In 2015, Uhrbrand et al. published the first review on Parkinson´s disease (PD) and exercise entirely based on randomized controlled trials (RCT) applying strict exercise definitions. The present review aimed to update the PD literature by assessing the effects of different intensive exercise modalities: resistance training (RT), endurance training (ET), and other intensive exercise modalities (OITM). An updated systematic literature search identified 33 new RCTs. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were performed. A total of 18 RT, 14 ET, and 1 OITM studies were identified (adding to the 8 RT, 6 ET, and 4 OITM studies identified by Uhrbrand et al. in 2015). RT, ET, and OITM were feasible, safe, and did not worsen PD symptoms. Furthermore, RT, ET, and OITM may positively affect functional outcomes (e.g., balance) and depressive symptoms in PD but inconsistencies across these findings warrant cautious conclusions. Meta-analyses showed that RT had a positive impact on muscle strength (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.83 [95% CI;0.54, 1.12]), functional capacity (Timed Up and Go Test (TUG): SMD = −0.62 [−1.01, −0.24]), and quality of life (SMD = −0.41 [−0.72, −0.09]), while ET had a positive impact on cardiorespiratory fitness (SMD = 0.27 [0.07, 0.47]) and functional capacity (TUG: SMD = −0.21 [−0.46, 0.04], 6-Min Walk Test: SMD = 0.89 [0.17, 1.62]), and a potentially positive impact on “on-medication” UPDRS-III (SMD = −0.15 [−0.38, 0.09]) and “off-medication” UPDRS-III (SMD = −0.19 [−0.41, 0.04]). In conclusion, RT, ET, and OITM all represent safe, feasible, and beneficial adjunct rehabilitation strategies in PD, with particularly RT and ET showing solid effects.

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