Physical activity reduced by Parkinson’s Disease


In a recent study, women with Parkinson’s Disease had reduced rates of physical activity.

Physical activity reduced by Parkinson’s Disease | Image Credit: © Khunatorn - © Khunatorn -

Physical activity reduced by Parkinson’s Disease | Image Credit: © Khunatorn - © Khunatorn -

According to a recent study published in Preventive Medicine Reports, physical activity interventions may help female patients with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

PD is an age-progressive disease leading to adverse motor and non-motor events, such as rigidity, bradykinesia, loss of postural control, sleep disturbance, and cognitive decline. It has been reported as the fastest growing neurological disorder worldwide, with the rate of PD doubling from 1990 to 2015.

Disparities in PD care based on gender have been observed, with referrals to a PD specialist, neurologist, or movement disorder specialist less common among female patients with PD. Physical activity also decreases as PD progresses, but data has indicated regular aerobic physical activity improves symptoms in patients with PD.

To determine how physical activity behavior impacts PD in older women, investigators conducted a secondary data analysis. Patients in the Women’s Health Study (WHS) were recruited from 2011 to 2015 to wear an accelerometer for 7 days. Phenotype data was obtained from large cohort studies and clinical trials.

The WHS was a study lasting until 2004 analyzing cardiovascular disease and cancer in patients aged 45 years and older. Follow-up analyses have been conducted from the study completion until present. In annual questionnaires, patients were asked if they had been newly diagnosed with PD in the past year.

Prevalent cases of PD were defined as women reporting a PD diagnosis on any questionnaire before wearing the accelerometer. Women free of PD were those who did not report a PD diagnosis before wearing the accelerometer.

Physical activity was measured using ActiGraph GT3X+ (ActiGraph Corp.; Pensacola, FL) triaxial accelerometers, along with a daily log reporting accelerometer wear time. Participants were asked to wear accelerometers for 7 days for all waking hours except swimming or bathing. 

Successful data collection was seen in 99% of women, and 96% were included in secondary analysis. Covariates included race and ethnicity, age, body mass index (BMI), cigarette use, general health status, education level, alcohol consumption, annual income, and number of comorbidities.

There were 80 participants with PD reported at baseline, aged a median 70 years and with a median BMI of 25.4 kg/m2. At least a bachelor’s degree was seen in 50.3% of patients, an annual household income of at least $50,000 in 61.8%, never smoking in 50.5%, and 1 or 2 comorbidities in 73.7%.

Activity levels included sedentary, low light-intensity physical activity (LLPA), high light-intensity physical activity (HLPA), and moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA). The mean times participants spent in these activities per day were 511.4 minutes, 179.9 minutes, 108.4 minutes, and 91.8 minutes respectively. 

Lower physical activity and more time spent sedentary was seen in women with PD than those without PD, at 542.5 minutes per day vs 511.2 minutes per day. Women with PD had an average 111,500 fewer vector magnitude counts per day than those without PD.

PD was associated with significant changes in the average time spent on all activity levels. Women with PD on average spent 23.2 more minutes per day sedentary, 10.5 more minutes per day in LLPA, 6.4 less minutes per day in HLPA, and 27.3 less minutes per day in MVPA.

Overall, these results indicated reduced physical activity in older women with PD. Investigators recommended prevention strategies be implemented to encourage physical activity in this population.


Hale JL, Knell G, Swartz MD, et al. Association of Parkinson’s disease status with accelerometer-derived physical activity and sedentary behavior in older women: The Women’s Health Study (WHS). Preventive Medicine Reports. 2023;35. doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2023.102361

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