Moderate Exercise May Slow Progression of Lou Gehrig's Disease

WEDNESDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Doing moderate strengthening exercises may help people with early-stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) maintain physical function and quality of life for a longer period of time, a new Canadian study says.

The 27 people in the study did a daily stretching routine that's standard for patients with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. One group of 13 patients also did moderate strengthening exercises with weights three times a week.

Each month for six months, the researchers assessed physical function, fatigue and overall quality of life in all the participants. Ten people in the stretching group and eight people in the strengthening group completed the study.

The patients in the strengthening group had a 12 percent slower decrease in function and a 16 percent slower decline in quality of life over the six months than patients in the stretching-only group.

The findings are published in the June 5 issue of the journal Neurology.

"Even though exercise might not ultimately affect the progression of ALS, exercise may improve function, increase muscle strength for a period of time and prevent the effects of disuse," study author Vanina Dal Bello-Haas, of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, said in a prepared statement.

"Individualized rehabilitation programs should be designed and provide to allow people with ALS to maintain their independence and function for as long as possible," Dal Bello-Haas said.

More information

The Muscular Dystrophy Association has more about ALS.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, June 4, 2007