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The Muscular Dystrophy Cycle

Cycling significantly improves fitness for those with MD.

Person cycling to avoid muscular dystrophy

New research dispels former concerns that exercise worsens myotonic dystrophy symptoms. People with muscular dystrophy who did 35 minutes of cycling three times per week had a 32% increase in fitness, according to a preliminary study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (2022; doi:10.1172/JCI156125). Researchers recruited 11 subjects with myotonic dystrophy type 1, the second most common form of muscular dystrophy, to participate in the cycling program.

“Myotonic dystrophy is a progressive condition that will impair your mobility and can put you in a wheelchair,” said study author Mark Tarnopolsky, PhD, professor of Neuromuscular and Neurometabolic Disorders in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University in Canada. Formerly, doctors advised patients with MD not to exercise, thinking it may worsen the condition. This concern, however, was unfounded. “There is no cure for [myotonic dystrophy] and only regular exercise helps you achieve better function,” said Tarnopolsky.

See also: Muscle: Use It or Lose It Until You Use It Again

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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