Physical activity and prodromal features of Parkinson disease

Katherine C. Hughes, Xiang Gao, Samantha Molsberry, Linda Valeri, Michael A. Schwarzschild, Alberto Ascherio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


ObjectiveTo investigate the relationship between physical activity and prodromal features of Parkinson disease that often precede the clinical diagnosis.MethodsIncluded are participants in 2 well-established cohorts: the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Physical activity was assessed using validated questionnaires at baseline (1986) and every 2 years until 2008. Prodromal features (e.g., constipation, hyposmia, and probable REM sleep behavior disorder [pRBD]) were assessed in 2012-2014.ResultsThe multivariable-adjusted odds ratio (OR) for having ≥3 prodromal features vs none comparing the highest to the lowest quintile were 0.65 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.53-0.79; ptrend = 0.0006) for baseline physical activity and 0.52 (95% CI 0.35-0.76; ptrend = 0.009) for cumulative average physical activity. Considering each feature independently, baseline physical activity was associated with lower odds of constipation (OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.73-0.83; ptrend < 0.0001), excessive daytime sleepiness (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.60-0.86; ptrend = 0.002), depressive symptoms (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.69-0.97; ptrend = 0.13), and bodily pain (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.68-0.96; ptrend = 0.03). Similar or stronger associations were observed for cumulative average physical activity, which, in addition, was associated with pRBD (OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.77-0.95; ptrend = 0.02). In contrast, neither hyposmia nor impaired color vision was associated with physical activity. Early life physical activity was associated with constipation and, in men only, with the co-occurrence of ≥3 features.ConclusionsThe reduced prevalence of prodromal features associated with Parkinson disease in older individuals who were more physically active in midlife and beyond is consistent with the hypothesis that high levels of physical activity may reduce risk of Parkinson disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2157-E2169
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 3 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology


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