Muscular dystrophies: influence of physical conditioning on the disease evolution

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2003 Jul;6(4):435-9. doi: 10.1097/01.mco.0000078987.18774.D9.


Purpose of review: To summarize the current knowledge of the effects of physical activity on muscular dystrophies.

Recent findings: Although the usefulness of exercise training in muscular dystrophy patients has been debated for many years, only a limited number of articles addressing this issue have been published to date. Existing studies on the effects of strength training in patients with muscular dystrophies have shown promising results, but interpretations are hampered by several methodological shortcomings.

Summary: The scientific basis for solid recommendations of different exercise regimens in muscular dystrophies is poor, but existing data suggest beneficial effects of adopting an active lifestyle. Low- to moderate-intensity resistance and aerobic training may be recommended in slowly progressive myopathic disorders. To date, there is no evidence to support the recommendation of high-resistance exercise regimens over low-moderate intensity exercise. In rapidly progressive myopathies, which are due to aberrant structural proteins such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the use of high-resistance and eccentric training should be avoided. There is still, however, no evidence that physical training can influence the evolution of muscular dystrophies in the long term.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Muscular Dystrophies / prevention & control*
  • Muscular Dystrophies / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Lifting / physiology