Is physical activity a risk factor for MND?

Multicentre, cross-cultural, population-based, case-control study of physical activity as risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Visser AE, Rooney JPK, D’Ovidio F, et al; Euro-MOTOR consortium.

JNNP 2018; 89:797-803.



To investigate the association between physical activity (PA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in population-based case-control studies in three European countries using a validated and harmonised questionnaire.


Patients with incident ALS and controls were recruited from five population-based registers in The Netherlands, Ireland and Italy. Demographic and data regarding educational level, smoking, alcohol habits and lifetime PA levels in both leisure and work time were gathered by questionnaire, and quantified using metabolic equivalent of task scores. Logistic regression models adjusting for PA-related factors were used to determine the association between PA and ALS risk, and forest plots were used to visualise heterogeneity between regions.


1557 patients and 2922 controls were included. We found a linear association between ALS and PA in leisure time (OR 1.07, P=0.01) and occupational activities (OR 1.06, P<0.001), and all activities combined (OR 1.06, P<0.001), with some heterogeneity between regions: the most evident association was seen in the Irish and Italian cohorts. After adjustment for other occupational exposures or exclusion of patients with a C9orf72 mutation, the ORs remained similar.


We provide new class I evidence for a positive association between physical activity and risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in a large multicentre study using harmonised methodology to objectively quantify PA levels, with some suggestions for population differences.

This paper is cited in the neurochecklist:

Motor neurone disease (MND): non-genetic risk factors

Abstract link

By Dr. Johannes Sobotta – Sobotta’s Textbook and Atlas of Human Anatomy 1908, Public Domain, Link

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s