Resistance training – such as strength and weight training – has been shown to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis and other diseases, the Daily Mail has reported.
Scientists say the exercise has been proven to slow rates of brain atrophy – the measure of the disease’s progression.
The study’s author, associate professor Ulrik Dalgas, from the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University, said: “Over the past six years, we have been pursuing the idea that physical training has effects on more than just the symptoms, and this study provides the first indications that physical exercise may protect the nervous system against the disease.”
The team from Aarhus University studied 35 people with multiple sclerosis for six months. The group was split into two – one would engage in resistance training twice a week, while the other did not exercise. The researchers conducted before, during, and after tests.
They found that training, combined with drugs, further minimised brain shrinkage in patients. Furthermore, some areas of the brain actually started to grow in response to the training.
Mr Dalgas said: “For the past 15 years, we have known that physical exercise does not harm people with multiple sclerosis, but instead often has a positive impact on, for example, their ability to walk, their levels of fatigue, their muscle strength and their aerobic capacity, which has otherwise often deteriorated.
“But the fact that physical training also seems to have a protective effect on the brain in people with multiple sclerosis is new and important knowledge.”
He added that further and larger research was necessary.
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