Treadmill Exercise in Parkinson Disease

This randomised clinical trial, published in JAMA Neurology, investigates whether treadmill exercise (TE) is safe for patients with Parkinson disease.

Treadmill Exercise

The trial explores both high and moderate intensity treadmill exercise. It focuses on patients with Parkinson disease who do not yet take medication. Trial leaders discover whether participants are able to exercise at a specific target intensity.

Trial Importance

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually develop gradually and are mild at first. These include muscle rigidity, tremors, and changes in speech and gait. But it is a progressive neurologic disorder, affecting the nerve cells in the brain. This means that symptoms will get worse over time.

There is limited evidence to suggest that endurance exercise modifies disease severity, particularly high-intensity exercise. This is why the trial will be focusing on TE.


The trial implemented high-intensity TE (for 4 days per week at 80%-85% maximum heart rate).  And for comparison it also implemented moderate-intensity TE (also for 4 days per week, but at 60%-65% maximum heart rate). Finally it put into effect a wait-list control for 6 months.

Trial Findings

By the end of the trial, researchers were able to establish that 80% to 85% and 60% to 65% exercise intensities are safe and feasible.

Trial Conclusions

The trial finds that high-intensity treadmill exercise may be feasible for prescribing safely for patients with Parkinson disease.

For Future Study

While high-intensity TE can be safely prescribed for patients with Parkinson disease, a phase 3 study is justified for investigating and establishing efficacy.

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