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ALS – Exercise Strategy

November 17, 2021


ALS is characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons, the nerve cells that control muscle movement. Without these cells, muscles weaken, and people gradually lose their ability to move, speak swallow, and eventually breathe. Exercise can really help people with ALS, but it has to be done very carefully. Exercise can help reduce anxiety and depression, but also increase the strength and stamina of muscles in people with ALS. ALS patients should work with a physical therapist to determine how best to exercise safely, as well as to ensure that the regimen includes stretching, strength, building and range of motion exercises. Regular and moderate exercise is better than excessive exercise. You certainly don’t want them developing Rhabdomyolysis. It’s important for patients to avoid overworking their muscles. Aching muscles after exercise mean that they’ve been overstressed and this might be the loss of motor neurons and worsen their disease progression. People with ALS should stop exercising when they get tired, rather than trying to push through the fatigue. Exercise regimens should include stretching, endurance activities and resistance training. Exercise regimens needs to be individually tailored as different people will have different capabilities. Ideally, people should have individualized exercise programs done with the physical therapist. Moderate exercise intensity, individualized programs, and the guidance of a physical therapist can improve an ALS patient’s mental and physical health, slowing down disease progression.

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