Skip to main content
Sign In

The SPARX Study

Exploratory study of different doses of endurance exercise in people with Parkinson disease

Purpose of this Study:

The SPARX study is a study in Parkinson’s disease of exercise, with the purpose of determining whether or not individuals who have been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and have not yet started drug treatment, can successfully take part in an aerobic exercise program. Accumulating evidence suggests that patients with PD might benefit from physical activity and exercise in a number of ways, from general improvements in health to disease-specific effects and, potentially, disease-modifying effects.

Study Qualifications:

  • Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the past 5 years
  • Not taking medication for PD
  • Do not anticipate starting medication for PD in the next 6 months
  • Between 40 – 80 years old
  • Willing and able to do aerobic exercise on a treadmill

What happens if I join this Study?

Individuals who agree to participate in this study will have a physical and neurological exam, a blood draw and an exercise stress test at no cost, and will be assigned to one of the following three groups:

  • Delayed Start: Participants will be asked to continue with their normal level of physical activity for the next 6 months, and then they will be assigned to one of the exercise groups for the next 6 months.
  • Moderate Exercise: Participants will exercise 4x per week for 30 – 45 minutes, at a moderate level of 60 – 65% of their maximum heart rate.
  • Vigorous Exercise: Participants will exercise 4x per week for 30 – 45 minutes, at a vigorous level of 80 – 85% of their maximum heart rate.

Participants will also be asked to wear activity monitors, complete questionnaires relating to symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and undergo neurological exams at various points throughout the study. All study visits take place at the University of Colorado on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado.

For more information please contact Toby Wellington at 720-848-6376 or

The principal investigator for this study is Margaret Schenkman,m PT, PhD.
This study is approved by the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board (Protocol #11-1237).