The fitness levels of people with myotonic dystrophy can increase by more than 30 per cent by cycling three times a week, a new study has shared.

Academics from McMaster University have detected that cycling for 35 minutes three times a week improves the mobility of individuals with the muscle degeneration disease myotonic dystrophy (MD).

During the study, the team of scientists examined the health and fitness outcomes of 11 people with the condition who were regularly cycling for 12 weeks.

They found that after the 12-week fitness programme, the participants could walk 47 metres further within six minutes.

In addition, they discovered that the participant’s muscle mass escalated by 1.6 kilograms and their body fat reduced by two per cent.

Top author, Mark Tarnopolsky said: “Exercise really is medicine – we just need to get the message out.

“MD is a progressive condition that will impair your mobility and can put you in a wheelchair. There is no cure for it and only regular exercise helps you achieve better function.”

Previously, doctors have told people with MD to avoid exercising as it could trigger complications, but this has now been proven incorrect, the study has shown.

MD gradually causes the muscles to weaken, leading to an increasing level of disability. The condition is mainly associated with older adults.

Symptoms of MD include impaired heart function, severe skeletal muscle atrophy, reduced lung capacity, general muscle weakness, diabetes, gastro-intestinal disorders and cataracts.

Tarnopolsky said: “Roughly 19,000 Canadians live with either MD or another type of muscular dystrophy. MD itself is really a form of accelerated aging.”

The study can now be accessed in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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