Lower Risk of ALS Seen for Men With High Levels of Physical Activity, Fitness

Risk of ALS down for men reporting moderate, high versus low levels of physical activity, for those with resting heart rate in lowest quartile
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WEDNESDAY, June 26, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- For men, high levels of physical activity and fitness are associated with reduced risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a study published online June 27 in Neurology.

Anders M. Vaage, M.D., from Akershus University Hospital in Lørenskog Norway, and colleagues examined the relationship between indicators of physical activity and fitness and long-term ALS risk using data from a large Norwegian cardiovascular health survey. The risk of ALS was assessed according to levels of self-reported physical activity in three categories: sedentary; minimum four hours/week of walking or cycling; and minimum four hours/week of recreational sports or hard training.

The researchers found that 504 of the 373,696 study participants (mean age, 4.9 years) developed ALS during a mean follow-up of 27.2 years. The hazard ratio was 0.71 for the highest versus the lowest level of physical activity. In the total sample, there were no clear associations seen between resting heart rate and ALS. In men, the hazard ratios of ALS were 0.71 and 0.59 for those reporting moderate and high levels of physical activity, respectively, versus low levels. The risk of ALS was reduced for men with resting heart rate in the lowest quartile versus the second highest quartile (hazard ratio, 0.68). No association was seen for self-reported levels of physical activity or resting heart rate with ALS risk among women.

"Moderate to high levels of physical activity and fitness in middle age do not increase ALS risk. Rather, it may be protective against the disease, but only in men," the authors write.

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