Newsletter Article

Muscular Dystrophy: Can Exercise Delay Muscle Impairment?

May 2016

Muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that can cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. People with muscular dystrophy have certain genetic mutations that interfere with the production of the proteins needed to form healthy muscle.[1]

Delaying muscle impairment for people with muscular dystrophy is a way to help maintain their quality of life and functional capabilities. Standard resistance training may be too strenuous for this population, so other methods have been explored. One study examined the effects of assisted bicycling in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) for 24 weeks.[2] The bicycle group maintained a total Motor Function Measure score over the study, whereas the control group declined.

A similar study used 24 weeks to measure a training program on the non-dominant arm of a group of boys with DMD.[3] The subjects played virtual reality computer games and performed daily activities with a dynamic arm support. At the end of the study, the trained arm retained more motor function than the untrained arm in 4 of the 6 boys.

A way of measuring the effectiveness of an intervention, or to measure the progression of the disease, could be with the 6-minute walk test. In another study, boys with DMD had significantly lower walk distances than healthy boys, with the largest factor being stride length. [4] Daily fatigue for people with muscular dystrophy can play a large part in these type of tests, but the test-retest correlation was high for the boys with DMD. Researchers concluded that this test could be a potential outcome measure in different treatment programs.

Researchers are working hard to find a cure for muscular dystrophy, and also to find ways to improve the quality of life for those it affects. More studies are needed, but research suggests that continued physical activity may help patients maintain more of their functional abilities.


Cashew nuts are native to Brazil, but over time they spread throughout Africa and India, and they can now be found in almost any area with a warm climate area.[5] The kidney-shaped cashew nut as you know it goes through several steps to get its familiar appearance. It grows from the bottom of the cashew apple, which is the fruit of the cashew tree. The shell of the cashew nut is toxic and can cause a skin rash on contact. The nuts are roasted to neutralize the toxic acid, and even the smoke given off during this process is toxic.

Once the cashew nuts are suitable to eat, they offer a variety of health benefits. Cashews have a lower fat content than most nuts, and the fat they do contain is mostly unsaturated. These unsaturated fats consist mostly of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to lower triglyceride levels.[6]

Cashews are a type of tree nut, along with almonds, pecans, and walnuts, to name a few. A recent study showed that people who reported eating more tree nuts had healthier eating habits than those who consumed lower levels.[6] They also contain high amounts of copper and have other minerals such as phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium.

Cashews can be used to create cashew cheese, which is a great alternative to regular cheese for anyone with a dairy allergy.

Cashew Cheese

1 cup raw cashews (soaked for 1hr or more)
1/4 cup filtered water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. white wine or you can use
1 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients into your high speed blender and blend until thick and creamy. Chill to further harden. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days.

Recipe from

Workplace Activity

Life in the workplace has become increasingly sedentary, which may contribute to an increase in weight and health problems for employees. A study estimated movement for employees working at various locations, including offices, call centers, and customer service centers.[8] Researchers found that 77% of the time spent at work was sedentary. Out of this time, approximately half of it was spent in sedentary bouts of 20 minutes or more. Less activity occurred on workdays compared to non-workdays, and on workdays, activity was lower during work hours compared to non-work hours. These findings suggest that the most time spent in sedentary activity for some people occurs at work.

In a study on long term changes in occupational sitting time for men and women, researchers examined sedentary behaviors at baseline and 5 years later.[9] Changes from baseline to 5 years were categorized as large decrease, moderate decrease, no change, moderate increase, and moderate increase in sedentary time at work. For women, BMI changed 0.13 per category of change. There were no associations found with men. A factor that may have affected the study is the fact that the data were from self-reports and not objective.

Some workplaces have started to offer ways to decrease sedentary time in their employees. Active workstations, pedometer challenges, and computer workstation designs have all shown to be effective ways to increase sedentary time during work days.[10] These interventions can increase the number of breaks from sedentary time, as well as increase light activity during work hours. Implementing these types of programs has the potential to significantly improve public health in the future.

Health Matters is written by Lindsey Guthrie, MS, RD, LD/N and Tyler Guthrie, MS, CSCS.


  1. Mayo Clinic. Muscular Dystrophy.
  2. Jansen M, van Alfen N, Geurts ACH, de Groot IJM. Assisted Bicycle Training Delays Functional Deterioration in Boys With Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: The Randomized Controlled Trial “No Us Is Disuse”. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 2013; 27(9): 816.
  3. Jansen M, Burgers J, Jannink M, van Alfen N, de Groot IJM. Upper Limb Training with Dynamic Arm Support in Boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: A Feasibility Study. International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 2015.
  4. McDonald CM, Henricson EK, Han JJ, et al. The 6‐minute walk test as a new outcome measure in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Muscle & Nerve. 2010; 41(4): 500.
  5. Morton J. Fruits of Warm Climates. 1987: 239.
  6. George Mateljan Foundation. Cashews.
  7. Recipe from ‘Nutrition Stripped’.
  8. Thorp AA, Healy GN, Winkler E, et al. Prolonged sedentary time and physical activity in workplace and non-work contexts: a cross-sectional study of office, customer service and call centre employees. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2012; 9: 128.
  9. Eriksen D, Rosthoj S, Burr H. Sedentary work—Associations between five-year changes in occupational sitting time and body mass index. Preventive Medicine. 2015; 75: 1.
  10. Parry S, Straker L, Gilson ND, Smith AJ. Participatory workplace interventions can reduce sedentary time for office workers—a randomised controlled trial.” PLoS One. 2013; 8: 11.

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