Forced Exercise Improves Mobility, Mood in PD Patient, Study Finds

Forced Exercise Improves Mobility, Mood in PD Patient, Study Finds

A collaboration between Theracycle and Virginian Outpatient Therapy will replicate a forced exercise regimen on a motorized bicycle with evidence of easing Parkinson’s symptoms, including rigidity, loss of balance and tremor.

In a 2009 study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, an eight-week program of forced exercise with a trainer on a stationary tandem bicycle — in which patients’ bodies move beyond the extent they can do so themselves — was compared to voluntary exercise on a stationary single bicycle. Ten patients (eight men) with mild to moderate idiopathic Parkinson’s were included, five patients in each group.

The results showed that the patients on forced exercise (mean age 58 years, disease duration 7.9 years) had a 35% improvement in motor scores — as assessed with the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS; higher scores mean more impairment) — as well as improved control and coordination of grasping during a bimanual dexterity task. Such improvements were not observed with voluntary exercise, although both groups had greater aerobic capacity.

The benefits in rigidity, bradykinesia — slowness of movement — and hand dexterity were maintained four weeks after stopping forced exercise, in which the patients pedaled at a rate 30% greater than their preferred voluntary rate.

Want to learn more about the latest research in Parkinson’s Disease? Ask your questions in our research forum.

In 2018, Shirlea Hennessy, Virginian Outpatient Therapy’s assistant director of rehabilitation, replicated the Cleveland Clinic study in a Parkinson’s patient. The patient’s wellness program was supplemented with an hour of forced exercise on the Theracycle three times a week for eight weeks.

This approach led to an improvement in the UPDRS score from 36 to 6 in 12 weeks, loss of 10 pounds, more joy in daily activities — including tai chi, yoga, Bible study, and visits with his grandchildren — and regaining the confidence to drive.

“To see such substantial improvements in his mobility symptoms in as little as eight weeks was remarkable,” Hennessy, who is also a board-certified geriatric clinical specialist, said in a press release.

Similar to the 2009 study, the patient maintained his improvements for four weeks after stopping the program, “revealing that a little effort can go a long way in establishing greater freedom and independence,” Hennessy said. “That freedom and independence is all that [Parkinson’s] patients strive for as they face their diagnosis and symptoms.”

Peter Blumenthal, Theracycle’s CEO, said that “to see Virginian Outpatient Therapy replicate the Cleveland Clinic study with its own patient and produce equally impressive results is inspiring.”

Hennessy will keep implementing forced exercise with a Theracycle for Parkinson’s patients at the outpatient physical therapy provider and expects to see benefits across the board.

A recent survey conducted by Theracycle revealed that 80% of its customers had improved walking, balance, and gait. Also, 73% reported an improvement in overall mood and 64% had a reduction in tremors or involuntary movements. Full results of the survey can be found here.

“At Theracycle, we understand how life-changing forced exercise can be for [Parkinson’s] patients,” Blumenthal said. “We’re honored to make a positive impact on the lives of those living with [Parkinson’s].”

Besides Parkinson’s, Theracycle provides motorized exercise bicycles to ease symptoms of multiple sclerosis, paraplegia, stroke, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and other degenerative neurological disorders.


  1. I have always believed that forced exercise was the best Medication for Parkinson’s. I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s for 4yrs. ( the symptoms were there considerably longer) I be taking part in the European Duathlon Championships in Romania in July 2019. I will not be beaten by PD.

  2. Charles Harrington says:

    I would be interested. I have a stationary bike and
    would be interested in the Therecycle. Could I get the same benefits with the back I have

    • Forrest Moret says:

      I am in Kansas City and I have a theracycle 200 for sale for $2000. It has been used but it is like new with very low hours. Call or send text to Forrest at 9132079289. If your call is not answered, please leave a message with your number and I will call back as soon as I am available

  3. Deepa Jain says:

    My mother has had PD for 19 years (she is 69 now). She used the Theracycle a few times a day for about 7 minutes each time (she isn’t athletic) and it made her feel more energetic and inhabit her body in a better way. I have been exercising with her a few times a week and as stated frequently, exercise (whether it’s boxing, dancing, weight training makes a profound difference.

    We are selling the Theracycle 2000 on eBay for $1500 for local pickup (in Westchester county) if anyone is interested in purchasing it. Please email me at [email protected]. We purchased it from Exercycle Company on 2/26/2013 and it truly is in great condition.

    My father who is a mechanical and electrical engineer enhanced a few minor things from the original model:
    – Pedals’ shaft angle-wise were modified in order to avoid the crank hitting the rider in ankles.
    -Computer display has been glued and taped to the base after the original plastic screws broke off.

    An Extra bottle of gearbox oil, funnel and Allen key included.

    Thanks for reading.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *