Exercise training beneficial for Becker muscular dystrophy

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Danish researchers have reported that exercise training improves the fitness and strength of people with Becker muscular dystrophy.

In the past people affected by Becker muscular dystrophy have often been advised to avoid excess physical exertion to reduce the risk of damaging their already weakened muscles. However, researchers have shown that moderate intensity cycling sessions for 30 minutes, up to five times a week, were beneficial. After 12 weeks, the participants in the study were approximately 50% fitter and their muscles significantly stronger.

Most importantly, laboratory tests showed no signs of increased muscle damage, even when the exercise programme was continued for a year.

Questionnaires completed by the 11 study participants revealed that most of them felt that their physical endurance, walking distance and leg muscle strength had improved after12 weeks of training.

This the first time that exercise training has been studied in people with Becker muscular dystrophy and the authors suggested that the results support a more active approach to the management of patients with Becker muscular dystrophy. Including frequent sessions of low to moderate aerobic exercise under medical supervision could significantly improve the symptoms of Becker muscular dystrophy.

Further information

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign funds research into exercise therapy for Mitochondrial myopathy and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

The original paper is not freely available and is written in scientific language. The reference for the paper is:
Sveen ML, Jeppesen TD, Hauerslev S, Køber L, Krag TO, Vissing J. Endurance training improves fitness and strength in patients with Becker muscular dystrophy. Brain. 2008 Nov;131(Pt 11):2824-31.

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