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Can You Exercise With Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is a term that defines a group of inherited disease affecting muscles of the body.1 In some cases, it may affect the heart and other organs of the body. Most cases of muscular dystrophy are seen in man. It is caused due to the deficiency of a protein named dystrophin. An individual with muscular dystrophy develop problems with walking, swallowing and coordination of muscles. It can appear at any age, but it is most common in childhood. There is no cure for muscular dystrophy. Stretching, aerobic and strengthening exercises are beneficial to reduce the stiffness, improve flexibility and increase the range of the affected joints.

Can You Exercise With Muscular Dystrophy?

Exercise can help in improvement of the muscles in a number of ways in the patients of muscular dystrophy.2 But it is not recommended in every type of muscular dystrophy. According to Ted Abresch, director of the Research and Training Center for Neuromuscular Disease at the University of California Davis, it is safe and effective for slow progressive forms of muscular dystrophy.

Exercises that can help in muscular dystrophy are:

Stretching- the exercise program should be started with warm-up sessions by stretching the muscles. It has lots of benefits in muscular dystrophy as it helps to improve flexibility, reduce the stiffness of the muscles and increase the range of motion of the joints. This helps to loosen the muscles and prevent injury to the muscles during exercises. It is recommended to stretch before exercises and should be repeated three to four times a day every day for best results.

Aerobic Exercises– aerobic exercise helps in improvement of heart and lung function and maintenance of healthy weight by steady weight loss. In muscular dystrophy, it is recommended to perform moderate-intensity aerobic exercises with 65% maximum heart rate. At this pace, the patient can talk and exercise at the same time. The patient of muscular dystrophy should be cautious that exercising should not hard to tolerate. The exercises like walking, swimming, or biking are low impact forms of aerobic exercises that can relieve the stiffness of the muscles. It is more beneficial when practiced for 20 minutes, four to six times a day according to the patients’ limits.

Strength Training– it is beneficial for the control of prime symptom of muscular dystrophy i.e. weakness of the muscles. It is safe for the forms of muscular dystrophy that have caused limited muscle damage. It is beneficial to prevent new injury to the muscle. Light-weight high resistance strength training program is recommended for them. It should be gradually progressed to more strengthening exercises to gain strength of the muscle.

Muscular dystrophy is a progressive disease of muscles marked by its degeneration and wasting with the time. It is caused due to deficiency of a protein named dystrophin, needed for healthy growth and the function of the body. It is inherited from one or both parents and runs in families from generation to generation.

Muscular dystrophy represents a group of 30 genetic diseases.1 It may range from mild to moderate to severe conditions. The type and cause of the disease may decide the severity of a case. It influences the quality of one’s life and the person may get disabled.

Muscular dystrophy can appear at any age. It is usually seen in infant age. Some of its types may also develop in late childhood or middle age or later. Its appearance in a particular age depends on its type and severity. It is known to affect males mostly. Women develop muscular dystrophy rarely and act as a carrier of the defective gene.


Muscular dystrophy represents a group of inherited diseases that influence the muscles and shorten damage and weaken them. This causes disabilities. There is no cure for muscular dystrophy. Exercise can improve the condition by strengthening the muscles and releasing the stiffness. However, it should be done under the surveillance of physical trainer according to the patient’s endurance.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 26, 2019

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