Levine, S.; Brandenberg, P.; Pagels, M.  Clinical Exercise Physiology  2000 Feb ; 2(1): 43-8

ABSTRACT: Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a strenuous exercise program on cardiovascular fitness and self-perceived ratings of symptoms that affect quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Methods: Ten patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease participated in a 12-week exercise program consisting of cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises. An strand-Rhyming cycle ergometer test was performed prior to and at the completion of the program. Also, a self-perception questionnaire on Parkinson’s symptoms affecting quality of life was completed at program completion. Statistical significance of cardiovascular fitness was analyzed using Student’s paired t-test. Questionnaire results were reported as descriptive statistics.

Results: Eight subjects completed the post-fitness evaluation and questionnaire. Cardiovascular fitness (i.e., estimated VáO2max) significantly (p < 0.01) improved (19.6 mL á kg_1 á min_1 to 24.3 mL á kg_1 á min_1), on the average, by 24%. Subjective impressions from the questionnaire revealed a unanimous improvement on Parkinson’s symptoms that affect quality of life. Trouble with walking and feelings of well-being reported a 100% improvement, while shuffling during walking, leg strength, posture, rigidity, and trouble getting up from a chair reported at least a 75% improvement.

Conclusions: For adults with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease, participation in and completion of a strenuous exercise program is feasible. Additionally, patients can experience benefits that will help alleviate symptoms affecting quality of life.

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