Exercise Guidelines for Gait Function in Parkinson’s Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Meng Ni, Joseph B. Hazzard, Joseph Signorile, Corneliu C Luca

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This systematic review and meta-analysis is to provide comprehensive evidence-based exercise recommendations targeting walking function for adults with Parkinson’s disease. Methods. Fixed- or random-effect meta-analyses estimated standardized effect sizes (Hedge’s g), comparing treatment effects from exercise with nonexercise and another form of exercise (non-EXE control and EXE control). Cuing and exercise duration were used as moderators for subanalyses. Results. The 40 included randomized controlled trials comprised 1656 patients. The exercise group showed significantly superior performance in timed up-and-go (g = −0.458; g = −0.390) compared with non-EXE control and EXE control; significantly greater improvement in comfortable walking speed (g = 0.449), fast walking speed (g = 0.430), and stride or step length (g = 0.379) compared with non-EXE control; and significantly greater cadence (g = 0.282) compared with EXE controls. No significant differences between intervention and control groups were observed for double-leg support time (DLST), dynamic gait index (DGI), 6-minute walk test, or freezing of gait questionnaire (FOG-Q). Notably, treatment effect from the exercise of interest compared with a standard exercise was greater than for nonexercise for cadence and FOG-Q. Moreover, EXE control was favored for DLST and DGI. Cuing had a significantly positive effect on stride length alone. Exercise duration significantly, but negatively, influenced the treatment effect on comfortable walking speed. Conclusion. Gait-specific training, rather than a general exercise program, should be emphasized if gait is the outcome of interest. Further investigation is needed on exercise dosage and its selective effect on more challenging walking tasks, endurance, and freezing of gait.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-886
Number of pages15
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • exercise prescription
  • movement disorder
  • task-specific training
  • walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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