The Impact of COVID-19 on Community-Based Exercise Classes for People with Parkinson Disease

This article was originally published here

Phys Ther. 2021 Aug 27:pzab203. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzab203. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the study was to determine the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on community-based exercise classes for people with Parkinson disease (PD) and their instructors.

METHODS: Data were collected via custom-designed electronic surveys for people with PD and class instructors who reported attending or teaching PD-specific exercise class ≥1/week for ≥3 months prior to pandemic restrictions (March 2020). The PD group also completed the Godin Leisure-Time Questionnaire (GLT-Q), Self-Efficacy for Exercise (SEE) scale, Schwab-England scale, and Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire 8 (PDQ-8).

RESULTS: Eighty-seven people with PD (mean = 70 [7.3] years old) and 43 instructors (51 [12.1] years old) from the United States completed surveys (October 2020 to February 2021). Mean Schwab-England (84 [16]) and PDQ-8 (21 [15]) scores indicated low-to-moderate disability in the PD group. Ninety-five percent of the PD group had COVID-19 exposure concerns and 54% reported leaving home ≤1/week. While 77% of the PD group scored “active” on the GLTQ, the mean SEE score (55 [24]) indicated only moderate exercise self-efficacy, and > 50% reported decreased exercise quantity/intensity compared to pre-COVID. There was decreased in-person and increased virtual class participation for both groups. The top in-person class barrier for the PD (63%) and instructor (51%) groups was fear of participant COVID-19 exposure. The top virtual class barriers were lack of socialization (20% of PD group) and technology problems (74% of instructor group).

CONCLUSIONS: During COVID-19 there has been less in-person and more virtual exercise class participation in people with PD, and decreased exercise quantity and intensity. Virtual classes may not fully meet the needs of people with PD, and primary barriers include technology and lack of socialization.

IMPACT: As COVID-19 restrictions wane, it is imperative to help people with PD increase exercise and activity. The barriers, needs, and facilitators identified in this study might help inform approaches to increase participation in exercise and activity for people with PD.

LAY SUMMARY: During COVID-19, there has been less in-person and more virtual exercise class participation in people with PD-and a decrease in exercise quantity and intensity. If you have PD, virtual classes might not fully meet your needs. Primary barriers may include technology problems and lack of social interaction.

PMID:34473303 | DOI:10.1093/ptj/pzab203