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Parkinson Disease and Exercise

  1. Gammon M. Earhart1,2,3,
  2. Michael J. Falvo4,5

Published Online: 1 APR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c100047

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Earhart, G. M. and Falvo, M. J. 2013. Parkinson Disease and Exercise. Comprehensive Physiology. 3:833–848.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri

  2. 2

    Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri

  3. 3

    Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri

  4. 4

    War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, VA NJ Health Care System, East Orange, New Jersey

  5. 5

    Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2013


Parkinson disease (PD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative movement disorder. PD was originally attributed to neuronal loss within the substantia nigra pars compacta, and a concomitant loss of dopamine. PD is now thought to be a multisystem disorder that involves not only the dopaminergic system, but other neurotransmitter systems whose role may become more prominent as the disease progresses (189). PD is characterized by four cardinal symptoms, resting tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia, and postural instability, all of which are motor. However, PD also may include any combination of a myriad of nonmotor symptoms (195). Both motor and nonmotor symptoms may impact the ability of those with PD to participate in exercise and/or impact the effects of that exercise on those with PD. This article provides a comprehensive overview of PD, its symptoms and progression, and current treatments for PD. Among these treatments, exercise is currently at the forefront. People with PD retain the ability to participate in many forms of exercise and generally respond to exercise interventions similarly to age-matched subjects without PD. As such, exercise is currently an area receiving substantial research attention as investigators seek interventions that may modify the progression of the disease, perhaps through neuroprotective mechanisms. © 2013 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 3:833-848, 2013.