Researchers have long known about the benefits of weight training for continued mobility with multiple sclerosis patients – but weight training may also reduce the progression of multiple sclerosis. Scientists found that engaging in resistance training only two times per week for six months was associated with a reduction in the loss of brain tissue in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
The research study found that some patients actually experienced an increase in volume (growth) in some brain regions when weight training. Research co-author, Professor Ulrik Dalgas, stated the study is the first to suggest physical activity can protect the nervous system against MS rather than simply alleviate symptoms from the disease.
The findings were recently published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.
Previous studies found that exercise/weight training had beneficial effects on muscle strength, aerobic capacity, ambulation and improved fatigue, gait, balance and quality of life.
In this study, scientists measured the brain volume and cortical thickness of each patient with an MRI. The participants that underwent weight training demonstrated reduced brain atrophy compared with those who did not perform resistance training.
This is an important finding because patients with MS experience markedly faster than normal brain shrinkage. While some drugs are beneficial in helping reduce brain atrophy, the study showed that weight training further minimized brain shrinkage, and in some cases, exercising patients experienced brain growth.
Further study will be done to better understand why resistance training reduces brain atrophy.
As a New Orleans disability attorney, I have helped a number of MS patients obtain disability benefits. I am happy to learn of any treatments that may improve their lives and will be sure to let them know about this study.