Is Exercise Good For Myasthenia Gravis?

There aren’t many studies done to prove whether exercises are good or advisable for myasthenia gravis (MG) patients. There are few studies available, but most of these studies are small-scale studies recruiting few numbers of myasthenia gravis patients. Many myasthenia gravis patients were told not to engage in exercises or activities that make them fatigue as these can be very dangerous. Patients themselves believed that the fatigue is caused by excessive physical activity and they attributed the muscle weakness and fatigue to physical activity.

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Then, studies were conducted because many patients complained of fatigue but it could not be attributed to the muscle weakness as the tests were normal and most of them were on an acceptable acetylcholine dose which should make the fatigue less. However, almost all studies done regarding exercises in myasthenia gravis patients so far have suggested that myasthenia gravis patients should engage in prescribed and well-organized low impact exercise program as this reduces the fatigue and maintain the bone and muscle health and reduce the secondary complications. (1)

What Is The Reason For Fatigue While Doing Exercises?

As you all know physical exercises are important for bone and muscle health and generally for a healthy living for anyone. Then, why is it different for myasthenia gravis patients? This is a question you should ask from yourself. I mentioned above that fatigue can be improved with exercises but most of you (two thirds) will tell that when you do a simple activity you feel tired. So, what’s the reason for this? Only 7% of generalized myasthenia gravis patients engage in physical activity. Myasthenia gravis patients do not involve in much physical activity as they think it exacerbates the muscle weakness and fatigue, but it’s actually the inactivity that causes weakens the muscles and after that, any small exercise on the muscle is an added stressor burden so you will feel fatigued.

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What Are The Best Exercises For Myasthenia Gravis?

Low impact exercises are recommended to myasthenia gravis patients however, you should get advice from your physician and a physical therapist on what kind of exercises you should do as this exercise program should be tailor-made according to the patient’s status. There are no specific set of exercises, especially for myasthenia gravis patients. According to studies done many patients tolerated the exercise program and many claimed that regular exercises increased muscle strength, cardiorespiratory health, nutritional status, sleep, concentration, and reduced stress. Patients who have done exercises on their own reported that exercises reduce fatigue to a significant level. It also reduced many complications that can occur with myasthenia gravis.

Type of exercises, duration of exercises, which time of the day exercises are done and the environment the exercises are done is extremely important. Before engaging in exercises, you need to be cautious and pay attention to the following factors

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Engage in regular moderate low-impact exercises such as walking, slow jogging, swimming, and recreational sports. Muscle strengthening exercises should be started from a range of motion then gradually increased to full resistance.

Exercises should be just performed at a dimension which falls short of fatigue. Do not engage in prolong exercises and if you feel fatigued have rest in-between. The tolerance time gradually increases with regular exercises.

Best time to do exercises is in the morning as the fatigue is less in the morning.

Increase temperatures can exacerbate muscle weakness and cause other symptoms of myasthenia gravis. The environmental temperature is low in the morning. So, morning is the best time and avoid high temperatures and humid environment. You can also do exercises in an indoor setting at low temperatures. (2) (3)

Conclusion

According to studies done on myasthenia gravis patients’ low impact moderate exercises are shown to be beneficial, it reduces fatigue and stress; and increases the muscle strength, cardiorespiratory health, nutritional status, sleep, and concentration. There are no specific set of exercises, you can do walking, slow jogging, swimming, and recreational sports. Muscle strengthening exercises should be started from a range of motion then gradually increased to full resistance. Do not engage in exercises for long periods. Before starting get advice from a physician and a physical therapist.

References:

  1. https://www.myastheniagravis.org/life-with-mg/exercise/
  2. https://pivotalphysio.com/exercise-myasthenia-gravis/
  3. http://eattobeatmg.com/fitness/exercise-for-myasthenia-gravis/

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: May 15, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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