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Activity Drop in Early Parkinson Disease Not Solely Age-Related

September 11, 2019

A small study that used commercial activity monitoring devices found that people in the early stage of Parkinson disease took fewer steps, spent less time engaged in moderate to vigorous activity, and spent more time sedentary compared with healthy older adults.  

Researchers published their findings online in Parkinsonism & Related Disorders.

“Physical inactivity in Parkinson disease has an impact on motor and nonmotor symptoms of the disease,” University of Washington researchers wrote in the study introduction. “It is unclear whether this decline in physical activity occurs early in the disease, in addition to any decline due to aging, and whether commercial activity monitors can be used to self-monitor physical activity levels in this population.”

To gauge the quantity and intensity of physical activity in people with mild Parkinson disease, researchers asked 30 patients with early Parkinson disease and 30 healthy older adults to wear commercially available activity monitors for 14 days. Participants reported high satisfaction with the activity monitors and demonstrated good compliance using them throughout the study period.

Daily steps averaged 6417 for people with mild Parkinson disease and 11,441 for healthy older adults, the study found. Daily minutes spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity averaged 33 for people with mild Parkinson disease and 72 for healthy older adults.

Meanwhile, minutes sedentary per day averaged 804 for people with Parkinson disease and 578 for healthy older adults.

“Physical activity declines in early Parkinson disease are not attributable simply to age,” researchers wrote.

They pointed out, however, that direct feedback provided by commercial activity monitors may help encourage patients with mild Parkinson to maintain activity.

Jolynn Tumolo


Pradhan S, Kelly VE. Quantifying physical activity in early Parkinson disease using a commercial activity monitor [published online August 3, 2019]. Parkinson Relat Disor. doi: 

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