Inverse Association Between Physical Activity and PD Risk Found in Men

Woman tying shoes, sneakers
Woman tying shoes, sneakers
Researchers observed an inverse relationship between moderate to vigorous physical exercise and risk for Parkinson disease.

An inverse dose-response association between physical activity and risk for Parkinson disease (PD) has been demonstrated among men, with even moderate exercise linked to a significant reduction in PD risk, according to the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of 8 prospective studies, with findings published in JAMA Network Open.

The investigators sought to quantify the dose-response relationship between physical activity and risk for PD. They systematically searched databases for peer-reviewed articles published through February 2018 that reported a link between physical activity and PD risk. A total of 8 prospective studies were identified, which included 544,336 participants, 2192 of whom had PD. The median follow-up period was 12 (range, 6.1-22.0) years.

A significantly decreased risk for PD was associated with the highest levels of either total physical activity (relative risk [RR], 0.79; 95% CI, 0.68-0.91) or moderate to vigorous levels of physical activity (RR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.58-0.87). Stronger associations were reported among men compared with women. Light physical activity, in contrast, was not significantly correlated with an individual’s risk for PD (RR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.60-1.23).

According to this dose-response analysis, for every increase of 10 metabolic equivalent of task-hours per week in total physical activity or moderate to vigorous physical activity, the risk for PD among men decreased by 10% and 17%, respectively. In contrast, no linear dose-response relationship was observed between level of physical activity and risk for PD among women (RR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.87-1.04).

The investigators concluded that additional studies with quantified measurements of physical activity and larger sample sizes are warranted to help identify the exact RR estimates for various levels of physical activity relative to PD risk.

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The findings from this analysis may help guide physician and healthcare policymakers to offer recommendations and develop guidelines regarding the level of physical activity that can help decrease the risk for PD at both the individual level and the population level.


Fang X, Han D, Cheng Q, et al. Association of levels of physical activity with risk of Parkinson disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Network Open. 2018;1(5):e182421.