3 Types of Exercises for Slow-Progressing Muscular Dystrophy


There are different types of muscular dystrophy and the severity of the condition can vary greatly from one patient to another. There are many MD patients who cannot partake in physical exercise, but for others, engaging in an exercise routine can help improve muscle tone and increase overall fitness and health. However, you should always consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen and be sure to take caution, slowly easing yourself into a routine to ensure you don’t injure yourself or damage any muscles.

Here are three different types of exercise that patients with slowly progressing muscular dystrophy might consider taking up based on livestrong.com‘s suggestions.


Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is any exercise which increases the heart rate. For those with muscular dystrophy, you should be able to exercise while holding a conversation. If you can’t talk because you’re too out of breath then you’re doing too much. The type of aerobic exercise will depend on your condition, but low-impact exercises such as fast walking, dancing, swimming, and cycling are all options.

The Muscular Atrophy News forums are a place to connect with other patients, share tips and talk about the latest research. Check them out today!

Ideally, you should exercise 20 minutes a day between four and six times per week, but you might want to start by doing five or 10 minutes a day and building your fitness levels up slowly. Ensure you warm up gently before exercising and stretch your muscles well after to decrease the chance of injury.

Here are some exercises and stretches adapted for muscular dystrophy patients.

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  1. Shamalatha says:

    I have limb-girdle muscular dystrophy which deteriorated over 30 yrs now and am unable to stand from sitting position since 1t days.
    I am totally wheelchair bound now.
    Any particular physical therapy to help me to stand up with assistance, please?
    How long I should do mu physical therapy exercises in a da?
    Does it help me or harm me?

    • Deej says:

      I’m in a similar situation. I go for physical therapy but I don’t see much improvement. I think the secret is to do something/anything you like to do and pretend it is not exercise 🙂 Therefore, you won’t mind doing it and will most likely get benefit out of it. Hope this helps

    • John Daley says:

      I have limb-girdle with underlying dysferlinopathy, diagnosed at age 38 due to recurring rhabdomyolysis. I gained 100 lbs. over the following three years due to inactivity as a poor diet. I could not walk an eighth of a mile. August of 2019 I changed my diet to clean, unprocessed foods and started doing very low repetition weight training beginning with the bar. Three repetitions for three sets of squats, deadlifts, bench press and barbell rows. I slowly added weight and have my CK monitored for myoglobin and have shed 70 pounds of body fat and rebuilt some muscle mass in my atrophied legs. I have gotten rhabdo once since starting, but with my chest port and saline pump I no longer end up in the hospital for six nights when I do get it. I am ahead of my disease, much more mobile and if I can get a vascular issue resolved I hope to return to work some day. I can’t recommend this for everyone, but figured I’d share my experience.

    • Brooks96 says:

      I have LGMD2I and yoga/pilates do so much good for me! Please see a specialist and show them what you plan to do and consistently follow up with them if you go this route! Our muscles sometimes can handle more than our joints and it’s always good to know your not over exerting (even if you feel little pain, you can be harming yourself!) working with your specialist can be frustrating because they normally have no answers in my case, but it can also save you. And remember, we are not helpless, and we are not victims. You can do something, and you can defy whatever odds your given. If it gets hard, be a survivor. Where there is a will, there is a way.

    • Mary Episcopo says:

      My husband does as well, unfortunately there aren’t any studies that I’m aware of & he is worsening. If you find anything out please let me know

      • Martha B Archuleta says:

        University of Irvine Health Institute. They are very familiar with OPMD. I had my first consultation with them. University of New Mexico also has many studies on OPMD. They have a cluster of Hispanics from Northern New Mexico. I am originally from New Mexico and my father and paternal grandmother had OPMD. My oldest sibling also has OPMD. I didn’t realize that it can eventually affect muscles in the legs and walking. I am at that point right now.

  2. usha says:

    My friend’s son is 8 years is old.From 5 years his calf is bulky and now he started limping .Does Stretching,exercises, walking,running aggravates his symptoms?

    • Hawken Miller says:

      Englarged calves are a sign of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. If that’s the case, they should see a doctor. I have the disease and running/walking/going up stairs can significantly deteriorate muscles. Again, would be best to consult with your doctor.

      • Scott Erbst says:

        What is your treatment regimen currently? You look great! You’re ambulatory, thin and don’t have the Cushing’s syndrome features.
        Fight on!

  3. William Fleming says:

    I have myofibrillar myopathy. Diagnose 09 of 2017. Like to know the best exercise for this. Am progressively lossing leg strength.

    • J Salmi says:

      I and my family also have a type of myofibrillar myopathy. Too much exercise is clearly harmful. Do you know genetic type you have?

  4. Mirella Campanaro says:

    i have centronuclear muscular dystrophy.
    I would like to connect with someone that has similar muscular dystrophy. Each year when i do a strength test i get weaker.Exercising tends to hurt my muscles even. I do some form of exercise . What is the best exercise to do for my condition. Is there any treatments.

  5. Kumar says:

    I am LGMD patient..but i can walk,drive,doing gym weightlifting..my upper body so strong compare to lower body(*qudricips muscle)..my calf muscle and hamstring muscles also strong..can i continue the gym for bodybuilding??

    • Nick says:

      I have Muscular dystrophy aswell in the middle of figuring out what kind I’m Mobile weight 142lb 35 years old. I was wondering if you were actually gaining muscle mass even thoe you say your not gaining strength anymore if I’m correct and are you maintaining strength? I’m often sore after a work out there not that extensive just wondering if I’m doing more harm then good I’d like to countinue working out to see just intrested in some feed back from someone with a similar condition

  6. thomsonp says:

    I have MD and it affects my upper limbs and it is to the point that I can not always turn my car keys in the ingnition. However, I still have strong legs. Should I just be doing exercises for my lower body? Can this prevent it form spreading or at least slow down the progression? Also, is this going to affect me cognitively? Are there any tests for this. My neuro recommended a memory test that ca be administered at the hospital.

  7. Laura Baca says:

    Hello. My son, mom, and myself have FSHD. my mom and I do light weights with very little weights or no weight at all to keep limber. My son hasn’t accepted the diagnosis yet and walks a lot. This type of exercise hurts, but feels better later in the evening. I do some bed exercises since I cannot lift my arms anymore. My mom has drag foot, so she is limited also.

    • Mary Ann says:

      I have a mild form of FSHD. JUST confirmed through a nerve conduction. Have this all throughout my family. My issue is slight slopy posture, but what brought me to the dr. was very weak core area. Steps are horrible. Terrible going up. Scary going down and getting up from floor. I’m going to get a muscle biopsy and gene testing. I just don’t want to do anything to make the progression speed up. Any advice ? I’m petrified my 30 yr. old son has it because he’s had pains throughout his body for 15 years and DOES have A bit of odd posture and scapulas that are sticking out. His arms are very flexible and can whistle. I don’t want to scare him but am thinking this might be the way this MD is presenting itself. Advice there?

  8. Connor says:

    I have FSHD, or facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy and i’m a High Schooler trying to figure what are the best exercises for my gym class. I don’t know what I should do because physical therapy hasn’t started, I can’t raise my arms and my legs are weak but not crazy.

    • Jeramie says:

      Don’t do gym u can get note stay away from running and sports I realists I did more damage from all the sports and also use elastic tension bands to strengthen and in bed lay legs knees up and tighten knee cap I had scapula fusion in 04 did more damage then good posture is all messed up because other shoulder is still out of wack loosing balance and if I fall can’t get up also very hard to get up from seated position mass is doing study on muscle builder med and it’s working but there only at stage 2 of study just keep heads up

    • Jeramie says:

      My fsh didn’t show signs until high school footdrop I wouldn’t do gym no sports and no weights or pushups sit-ups u no elastic band therapy works strengthen your core thigh muscles stuff that helps balance cause that’s what’s gonna keep u walking any questions email me

  9. Dan Dancer says:

    I,be been diagnosed with scapuloperaneal muscular dystrophy. This after taking 29 out of 30 tablets of 80mgs of Simvastatin. Symptoms began before completing the total 30 tablet prescription and have continued to destroy skeleton muscles. My balance and strength are very weak! Getting up from a seated or any low position is very difficult. It seems that the muscles I use the most are weakened the most!

  10. Asad says:

    Hi guys my father suffers from md currently their is no treatment plan in the uk, I’m wondering if their is anything abroad any help or suggestions would be highly appreciated

  11. Abi says:

    I have fshd so im not very strong in my upper body. I would like to tone my arms but find it hard to find an exercise that’ll help with this and not to difficult to do. Does anyone have any suggestions please .

  12. Mo Chuntass says:

    My beloved adult nephew has been diagnosed with myotonic muscular dystrophy, he is 32 yrs of age.
    We are devastated And handling it differently.
    I want to know everything about it so I can help, but he, his mum & dad don’t seem to want to reach out yet.

    I have just started reformer Pilates and he wants to do it too but I am scared he will cause more damage than good to his muscles as it can be quite demanding.

    Any advice. or where Can I find that sort of information?

  13. Summer says:

    I hav muscular dystrophy too and wht helps me sooo much is a T-Zone vibration machine.. I highly recommend it!!!it keeps me going.

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