Activity and Multiple Sclerosis
- by Linda T.
- September 18, 2017
Linda T. is a paid employee of Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
Why is it good to develop a plan for activity with MS? Exercise is a great way to help manage your MS symptoms. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, studies have indicated that individuals with MS who exercise may experience the following results:
- Improved strength
- Reduced pain
- Less stress
- Improved mood
- Greater endurance
Finding ways to stay active can seem like a challenge, and MS symptoms may impact what type of exercise you can do. Still, it is important not to focus on what you can’t do but rather to focus on discovering what you can do.
One of the first things in developing an exercise program is to talk to your doctor to see what guidelines he or she recommends based on your particular health issues. Your health care provider may make recommendations about what kinds of exercises are most appropriate for you, as well as the ones you should avoid. For some individuals, a health care provider may recommend a physical therapy evaluation before making any recommendations. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society created a brochure on ways to incorporate exercise into your daily life that may be helpful once you and your health care provider agree on an exercise plan.
Any exercise routine can become tedious over time, so it is important to find a routine that you enjoy. For some, having a support network or an accountability partner will help keep them motivated to stay the course. Exercising with someone can increase the fun, as well as keep you on track with your fitness goals. Work with your health care provider to determine which activities are right for you.
There are many ways MS patients can stay active. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense to be beneficial. There are many forms of physical activity such as yoga, swimming, pool exercises or tai chi that can be incorporated into your daily life. This NMSS article has links to a variety of adaptive exercise options for those with physical limitations. Teva also put together a few tips on light exercises for those living with relapsing MS. Just remember, it is important to consult your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
You also can incorporate informal exercise into your daily routine. Try taking the stairs occasionally, stretching while watching television, or taking a leisurely stroll. If you spend most of your day at a desk, take breaks occasionally to stretch and walk around the office. Cooking and gardening are other types of informal exercise. If you enjoy cooking, we’ve included a few of our favorite recipes in the By the Bite blog series that you may enjoy, like hummus or a veggie quiche.
With MS, it is important to avoid becoming overheated when you exercise. Even a slight rise in core body temperature can trigger temporary symptoms. To prevent becoming overheated you can:
- Exercise indoors in spaces that are air-conditioned
- Exercise during the cooler times of the day
- Wear a personal cooling device such as a vest or neck wrap
- Wear lightweight, loose clothing
- Drink plenty of cool fluids
- Read tips to stay cool in the summer heat
Be proud of your choice to stay active! Once you’ve consulted your health care provider, start out gradually and find an activity that you enjoy. When it comes to physical activity, small changes to your daily routine can result in positive changes in your health.
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Shared Solutions® Nurse
About The Author
Linda T., RN, is an MS Certified Nurse who works at Teva’s Shared Solutions®. She has specialized in multiple sclerosis for 12 years and has 38 years of nursing experience.
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Rose | September 21, 2017My son was diagnosed 2yrs ago im glad i can stay posted on this disease!!!
Teva's Lift MS® Team | September 22, 2017Thank you for the kind words, Rose.
Rachel | January 27, 2018Try Silver Sneakers if you are a senior over 55 like I am. I go 4 times a week, usually. Since I started going I can make our bed without my husband's help. I can get in and out of the bath tub by myself. And I don't remember the last time I used a cane!
Teva's Lift MS® Team | January 29, 2018Finding an activity you enjoy can make all the difference, Rachel! Be sure to consult a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program.
Sherry | January 29, 2018I still work full time and also a part time job from 6:30 to 10:30 at night I have had MS for 15 years now I also try to workout and my physical therapist wanted me to try pool therapy I go-swimming at the YMCA now stay active while you can and don’t give up I pray a lot trust in the Lord to get me through this terrible disease! We might have MS but MS doesn’t have me!
Teva's Lift MS® Team | January 30, 2018Thanks for sharing, Sherry.
Christine | February 01, 2018I live in a 55 and over apartment and we have a exercise program two days ever week we do light exercise
Teva's Lift MS® Team | February 02, 2018Thank you for sharing, Christine. We wish you the best!
Jil | February 02, 2018Hi Linda-
Great article, great advice-to exercise and great tips- to exercise in the best way for you and sound general exercise guidance!
Heat sensitivity is very important to manage while exercising, especially when you compound it with the humidity of summer. I use my cooling vest, wrist & ankle wraps every-time I during those time. Such a tremendous help and no MS fatigue! Thanks again!
Teva's Lift MS® Team | February 05, 2018We’re glad you liked this, Jil. We hope you’ll check back often for new content!