Bicycling beneficial to patients with Parkinson’s disease

07 Oct 2021

Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) may do well to ride a bicycle as this helps improve motor performance, especially crucial features of the gait, as reported in a study.

Researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of trials evaluating the effects of bicycling in PD. They searched multiple online databases and selected 22 studies, which involved a total of 505 patients, for inclusion.

Across the studies, the duration of intervention varied between 1 and 12 weeks (average, 5.3 weeks), while the sessions conducted per week ranged from one to five. There were three studies that did not report the bicycling cadence (revolutions per minute, rpm); one study described it to be on a ‘comfortable’ level, while the remaining 18 documented the cadence.

Cadence was evaluated in groups of 10 rpm, from 40–50 rpm up to 80–90 rpm. Nine out of the 18 studies aimed at 70–80 rpm or at 80–90 rpm. The intervention was reported to have been assisted in some studies and nonassisted in others.

Pooled data from all 22 studies showed that bicycling interventions conferred a significant effect on motor outcomes (standardized mean difference [SMD], 0.55, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.27 to −0.82; p<0.001;, 53.5 percent). When three studies that contributed to high heterogeneity were removed, the effect was attenuated but remained significant (SMD, 0.35, 95 percent CI, 0.21–0.48; p<0.001; , 0 percent).

Furthermore, the beneficial effect of bicycling was greater for motor outcomes (SMD, 0.42, 95 percent CI, 0.27–0.58) than cognitive measures (SMD, 0.15, 95 percent CI, −0.11 to 0.4). Also, a longer treatment duration yielded greater benefits than a treatment taking place only once.

Other measures that improved with bicycling were balance, walking speed, and capacity, as well as the Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire 39 (PDQ-39) ratings.

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