Health Gains for Parkinson’s Duos on Tandem Bikes

Engaging in tandem stationary cycling could offer health improvements for both individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers, highlighting a potential avenue for enhancing their well-being as per a study that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 76th Annual Meeting taking place April 13–18, 2024, in person in Denver and online (1 Trusted Source
American Academy of Neurology’s 76th Annual Meeting

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“Our study found that a unique cycling program that pairs people with Parkinson’s disease with their care partners can improve the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of both cyclists to improve their quality of life,” said Jennifer Trilk, Ph.D., of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville.

“It is just as important that care partners also receive care, so we included them as the cycling partners. The goal of our small study was to determine if tandem cycling was beneficial. The next step will be to confirm the results with subsequent studies that would include more participants.”

The study included 18 participants, nine with Parkinson’s disease and their corresponding nine care partners.

For the tandem cycling program, pairs of people with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners cycled on indoor, stationary tandem bicycles while using a virtual reality platform two times per week for eight weeks.

During each session, all participants could visualize themselves cycling along real-life, scenic outdoor routes by watching large television screens synced to the cycling intensity.

The tandem cycling set-up also allowed the care partners to help adjust the cycling pace and facilitate a higher pedaling rate for greater health benefits.

Benefits of Tandem Stationary Cycling

Before starting the cycling program, all participants completed a series of tests. Participants repeated the same tests two days after the final cycling session eight weeks later.


For a test of resiliency, participants ranked a series of six statements regarding their perceived ability to bounce back or recover from stress. Statements were ranked on a scale of one to five, with higher numbers indicating stronger agreement.

Statements included “I tend to bounce back quickly after hard times” and “I usually come through difficult times with little trouble.”


While people with Parkinson’s disease did not show improvements in resiliency, researchers found care partners demonstrated individual improvements in overall resiliency, which Trilk noted may help to decrease care partner burden.

Care partners also demonstrated statistically significant improvements in depression scores after the cycling intervention.

Those with Parkinson’s disease completed additional disease-associated tests, including a questionnaire on how often they experience difficulties in daily living, including relationships, social situations, and communication.

They also completed physical tests, including a test used to gauge the severity and progression of their disease as well as a walking speed test.

Did You Know?

Tandem cycling, where two riders pedal together on the same bicycle, is often used as a form of therapy for individuals with visual impairments.

People with Parkinson’s disease improved across their respective tests.

In the test measuring overall perception of difficulties in daily living, where higher scores indicate a lower quality of life, on a scale of zero to 100, participants decreased their total score by nearly five points, indicating improved overall quality of life.

Participants with Parkinson’s disease also showed significant improvements in mobility on this test, in which they had a decrease of nearly 14 points, indicating improved overall physical function.

Researchers also found that participants with Parkinson’s disease had a decrease of eight points in the test gauging the overall motor severity and progression of their disease, where higher scores indicate greater disease burden. Overall scores range from zero to 132.

They also improved their walking speed, with an increase of 0.27 meters per second. The study was supported by the Prisma Health-Upstate Office of Philanthropy and Partnership.


  1. American Academy of Neurology’s 76th Annual Meeting


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