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J Parkinsons Dis. 2019;9(1):73-95. doi: 10.3233/JPD-181484.

The Effect of Different Exercise Modes on Domain-Specific Cognitive Function in Patients Suffering from Parkinson's Disease: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.

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Institute of Movement and Neurosciences, German Sport University, Cologne, Germany.
VasoActive Research Group, School of Health and Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Mainz, Mainz, Germany.



Supervised exercise training alleviates motor symptoms in people with Parkinson's disease (PD). However, the efficacy of exercise to improve nonmotor symptoms such as cognitive function is less well known.


To systematically review evidence on the efficacy of different exercise modes (coordination exercise, resistance exercise, aerobic exercise) on domain-specific cognitive function in patients with PD.


Parallel-group randomized controlled trials published before March 2018 were included. Primary outcome measures included global cognitive function and its subdomains, and the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale was included as a secondary outcome. Methodological quality was assessed using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale.


The literature search yielded 2,000 articles, of which 11 met inclusion criteria. 508 patients (mean age 68±4 years) were included with a disease severity from 1 to 4 on the Hoehn & Yahr stage scale. Overall study quality was modest (mean 6±2, range 3-8/10). In 5 trials a significant between-group effect size (ES) was identified for tests of specific cognitive domains, including a positive effect of aerobic exercise on memory (ES = 2.42) and executive function (ES = 1.54), and of combined resistance and coordination exercise on global cognitive function (ES = 1.54). Two trials found a significant ES for coordination exercise (ES = 0.84-1.88), which led to improved executive function compared with that of non-exercising control subjects.


All modes of exercise are associated with improved cognitive function in individuals with PD. Aerobic exercise tended to best improve memory; however, a clear effect of exercise mode was not identified.


Parkinson’s disease; UPDRS; cognitive function; exercise therapy; systematic review


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