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ALS: Exercise

People living with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, can benefit from continuing to exercise as they are able.

“Part of maximizing your function and comfort lies in preventing or minimizing joint discomfort and addressing any painful areas quickly,” state the authors of the ALS Association manual, “Living with ALS: Functioning When Your Mobility is Affected.”

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) explains that exercise in the earlier stages of ALS can provide “physiological and psychological boosts.” Note that people diagnosed with ALS should consult with their health care provider to discuss what type of exercise is best and safe. For some people living with ALS, a daily walk may be all that is possible and advisable and other might prefer water-based activities in a supervised pool for cardiovascular activity.

A physical therapist should be hired to help with range of motion and stretching movements that are appropriate for the current stage of ALS (your health care provider may write a prescription for this). When shopping for a physical therapist, look for one with experience working with people who have been diagnosed with ALS.

The MDA advises that people living with ALS should avoid specific things when exercising:

  • Extreme temperatures

  • Heavy weights

  • Continuing to exercise when in pain

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