Is ALS Linked To Intense Exercise?

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : October 25, 2021

The myth that strenuous exercise could increase the risk of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be allayed by a new study.

ALS is an incurable neurological disease.

Is ALS Linked To Intense Exercise?

Among adults who work up a sweat routinely by playing a team sport of engaging in heavy gym workouts, there was no evidence that supported the claim that the risk for ALS is being increased.

It was also found that the risk associated with an increase in the risk for leisure activities that were less intense also did not increase ALS. These activities include running, biking, and walking.

Is ALS Linked To Intense Exercise?

It was observed by investigators that strenuous physical activity on the job had associations to a higher risk of ALS.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Angela Rosenbohm said that the risk for developing ALS was almost doubled when exercise at work was heavy.

Angela is the head of the neurological rehab in the German university of Hospital Ulm.

It was stressed by the team that the research that they conducted did not prove that intense labor causes ALS.

They noted that other factors could be in play. This included exposure to harmful chemicals on the job, pollution, or even performing the same motion over and over again over a long period of time. Certain professions are typified by these movements.

In memory of the baseball legend who died due to ALS, it is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease sometimes.

After diagnosis, the average life span of the victim is about 2 to 5 years.

The ability to initiate and control normal movements is lost by those who are diagnosed with the rare disease.

400 newly diagnosed ALS patients along with 800 healthy peers answered activity questionnaires for the study.

Details were provided about the type of activities and amount of activity that they had engaged in between the ages of 20 and 60.

Activity that was done during times of leisure was evaluated as either light or intense and sweat-inducing.

Activity that was performed on the job was characterized as either light, which included those desk jobs or driving jobs; moderate, which included sales jobs or mechanics’ jobs; and heavy, which included jobs like masonry, farming, and construction work.

For those whose jobs entailed light physical labor, there was no increased risk of ALS.

There was no greater risk for ALS associated with any type or amount of physical activity, regardless of whether it was done on or off the job.

This held true up until 5 years before a diagnosis for ALS.

The team found that around 22% of patients who had been diagnosed with ALS newly had physical jobs that required heavy activity 5 years prior to the diagnosis.

Rosenbohm also said that about 5 to 10 years before the outbreak of the disease, patients with ALS show a sharp decline in the amount of physical activity.

This team had conducted research previously that showed that there was also a sharp decline in the BMI of the patients. This decline started about 9 years before the onset of symptoms of ALS.

Rosenbohm said that when taken together, it appears that the disease starts much before the symptoms can even be recognized.

It was also surprisingly found that worse survival rates were linked to intense exercise that was done routinely when compared to lighter exercise.

Rosenbohm said that the level of exercise is believed to be a disease-modifying factor.

She said that patients sometimes try to overpower themselves in an attempt to overcome the disease which only makes them lose muscle and strength much faster than those who exercise lightly.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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