Indoor Cycling as Effective as Medication in Treating Parkinson’s Disease, New Study

Indoor Cycling as Effective as Medication in Treating Parkinson’s Disease, New Study

Riding on an indoor bike three days per week appears to significantly decrease Parkinson’s symptoms for patients in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study published in the Lancet Neurology.

Researchers found that high intensity aerobic exercise on a static bike, using interactive apps, provided ‘about the same improvement’ as medication in patients with the debilitating disease.

Researchers recruited 130 sedentary patients with Parkinson’s disease from the outpatient clinic at Radboudumc, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Patients were aged 30–75 years with a Hoehn-Yahr stage of 2 or lower, which is considered early in the disease’s progression. All were already on medication for Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers working in the study split patients into two groups and monitored their progress over six months. One group rode on home trainers, using software which showed courses such as Tour de France stages, with variable resistance letting them compete against other patients. The other group did stretching exercises three times a week, also with an app for motivation.

The control group scored four less points on the scale used to assess the  motor skills of Parkinson patients.

Bas Bloem, head of the research team:

The effect of cycling is about the same as the improvement we would get from different types of medication. New medication for patients are regarded as meaningful if the improvement it brings has a score of three. That shows you how important the effect of cycling really is.

The cyclists were fitter and had fewer symptoms. They were deteriorating at a slower pace. That means they will need less medical care and fewer pills but also that effects of the disease on their lungs and heart will be reduced. Many Parkinson patients die of these complications