A study out of Politecnica University in Ancona, Italy shows that aerobic training has a significant impact on the ability of moderately disabled PD patients to cope with exercise, but Qigong does not.

Investigators from Politecnica University of Marche in Ancona, Italy studied the effects of aerobic training vs. Qigong in subjects with Parkinson''s disease (PD).

In this randomized controlled trial with a crossover design, 26 PD patients in Stage II to III (Hoehn and Yahr scale), under stable medication, were randomly allocated to either an Aerobic Training group (receiving 20 aerobic training sessions followed by 20 Qigong group sessions after a 2 month interval between the interventions), or the same treatments in reverse order – Qigong first, followed by a 2-month interval, then Aerobic Training.

Outcomes were measured by the Unified Parkinson''s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), Brown''s Disability Scale (B''DS), six-Minute Walking Test (6MWT), Borg scale for breathlessness, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Parkinson''s Disease Questionnaire-39 items (PDQ-39). A spirometry test and maximum cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) were also performed to determine the pulmonary function, the metabolic and cardio-respiratory requests at rest and under exercise. All measures were taken immediately before and at the completion of each treatment phase.

The statistical analysis revealed a significant increase in the 6 Mile Walking Test and a larger decrease in breathlessness after aerobic training within each subgroup. No significant changes were observed during Qigong. The analysis of cardiorespiratory parameters showed significant effects after aerobic training to an extent that was never observed after Qigong treatment.

The study concludes that aerobic training exerts a significant impact on the ability of moderately disabled PD patients to cope with exercise, but does not improve their self-sufficiency and quality of life. Qigong had no significant effects.

Citation: Burini D, Farabollini B, Iacucci S, Rimatori C, Riccardi G, Capecci M, Provinciali L, Ceravolo MG. A randomised controlled cross-over trial of aerobic training versus Qigong in advanced Parkinson''s disease. Europa medicophysica. 2006 Sep;42(3): pages 231-8.