Motor Neurone Disease risk for some ‘increased by regular exercise’



Regular and strenuous exercises increases the risk of Motor Neurone Disease amongst genetically vulnerable people, a new study suggests.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield warned that nobody should stop exercising as a result of the outcome to their research, but were hopeful the study could help tailor specific advice to those at greater risk of developing MND.

Currently, the risk of developing MND is around one in 300 according to the Motor Neurone Disease Association

The condition heavily impacts daily functions such as walking, talking and even breathing, and can dramatically cut a person’s life expectancy as their muscles gradually fail and waste away.

Several high profile sportsmen have come forward to raise awareness surrounding the disease, including Rob Burrow (rugby league), Stephen Darby (football), and Doddie Weir (rugby union).

Who gets the disease is still highly complicated to determine, as there are a mixture of environmental factors as well as the genetic risk people are born with, but there was long been a possible link between exercise and the disease which has flared after the release of this study.

In the study published in EBioMedicine, strenuous exercise was defined as 15-30 minutes of exercise two or three times a week, which would indicate the risk affects a small number of people given how many of us exercise in the UK.

Dr Johnathan Cooper-Knock, who helped conduct the research, claimed: “We have conclusively said exercise is a risk factor for motor neurone disease.

“The numbers of high-profile athletes affected with MND is not a coincidence.”

He concluded by underlining the importance of exercise and that people shouldn’t stop exercising altogether.

“We don’t know who is at risk, and we wouldn’t go as far as advising who should and shouldn’t exercise.

“If everyone stopped exercising that would do more harm than good.”

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