Motor neuron disease (MND) is a medical condition that causes the nerves in the spine and brain to lose function over time. It is a rare and severe form of neurodegenerative disease. MND can occur at any age but is reported to appear after a person crosses 40. It is found more in men than women.

A recent study at the University of Sheffield suggested that regular and strenuous exercise increases the risk of MND in people who are genetically vulnerable. However, they maintained that they should not stop exercising because of the study.

As per the study, there has been a connection between exercise and the disease. However, it is yet to be found that if the relation between the two is “cause” or “coincidence”.

“We have conclusively said exercise is a risk factor for motor neurone disease. The numbers of high profile athletes affected with MND is not a coincidence,” BBC quoted Dr Johnathan Cooper-Knock as saying.

According to a BBC report, the researchers compiled data from the UK Biobank project. They used a technique called Mendelian randomisation to turn that data into an experiment, showing people whose DNA makes them more susceptible to MND.

The published study also showed that genes are known to increase the risk of MND often change their behaviour in response to exercise. It also showed that people develop who exercise aggressively have the most common mutation of the disease that is developed at an early age.

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Dr Cooper-Knock said: “We don’t know who is at risk and we wouldn’t go as far as advising who should and shouldn’t exercise. If everyone stopped exercising that would do more harm than good.”