Study Finds That Exercise May Reduce Risk of ALS

April 25, 2014

ALS Association-supported research published in the scientific journal Annals of Neurology indicates that exercise does not increase the risk for developing ALS and may be protective.

The role of exercise and physical exertion in ALS has been controversial. Previous studies have produced conflicting results but have generally been small or confounded by other flaws

To overcome these problems, a team of European researchers, led by Ettore Beghi, M.D., in Milan, Italy, interviewed more than 650 people with ALS and more than 1,100 matched healthy controls to determine their history of work and leisure-related physical activity. They found that overall physical activity was associated with a 35 percent reduced risk of ALS, whether the activity was due to occupation or leisure activity. Those engaging in more strenuous activity were at lower risk. As uncovered in previous studies, a history of repeated head trauma was associated with an increased risk for ALS.

“This important study adds further to our understanding of risk factors for ALS,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Scientist for The Association. “While the study was retrospective, rather than prospective, in design, the robust results provide confidence that exercise is not associated with an increased likelihood of developing ALS and may even offer some degree of protection. Further work will be needed to identify the reasons for these effects, which may offer us some new ideas for developing treatments.”

Read the press release.

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