Tips From a Doctor: Multiple Sclerosis and Exercise
- by Dr. Allen C. Bowling
- June 01, 2020
Dr. Bowling has been compensated by Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
Research has shown that exercise has many benefits for most people living with MS. Exercise may help improve many different MS symptoms, such as fatigue and bowel and bladder difficulties. Exercise may also have general health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, lowering of blood pressure, weight reduction, and prevention and treatment of diabetes and osteoporosis. As always, it’s important to talk with your doctor before making any lifestyle changes or starting a new exercise program.1-5
It may be difficult for some to find time to start exercising regularly, or some might find gyms to be unappealing. In these cases, unconventional exercise programs may be valuable pieces to include in your daily routine. These options may be considered fun to some and not feel as burdensome.
Below you’ll find some programs that may be beneficial to those living with MS. These exercises don’t require gym equipment and could even be done with a group of friends.6-11
- Yoga: This can be a gentle and effective form of exercise. Yoga is now widely available and poses may be modified to their simplest forms. Yoga is designed to support the body’s joints and muscles and can be practiced while standing or sitting.
- Tai Chi: More gentle than yoga, tai chi is a Chinese martial art. In people with MS, it may improve walking, decrease stiffness, and improve social and emotional functioning. Check out this video if you’d like to practice mindful movement.
- Pilates: Pilates is becoming more popular among people who have MS and has many of the same physical and mental health benefits as yoga. It helps to increase flexibility and strength through controlled movements.
- Pole Walking: Also known as Nordic walking, pole walking involves walking while using trekking Nordic poles, which are like ski poles that have a special glove-like system attached. The poles provide additional support and thus may protect from falling. The use of poles provides a more comprehensive workout, including greater use of the torso and arm muscles.
- Dancing: The musical and rhythmic movements of dancing may provide a more stimulating experience than a conventional exercise. Dancing can be performed sitting down or standing up.
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Allen C. Bowling, MD, PhD
About The Author
Dr. Allen C. Bowling, MD, PhD is an internationally renowned neurologist and multiple sclerosis specialist.
1. Benefits of an exercise program. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. https://www.nationalmssociety.org/For-Professionals/Clinical-Care/Managing-MS/Intro-to-MS-for-Fitness-Professionals/Module-3. Accessed February 4, 2020. 2. 7 heart benefits of exercise. Johns Hopkins website. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/7-heart-benefits-of-exercise. Accessed February 4, 2020. 3. 7 things you can do to prevent a stroke. Harvard Health Publishing website. https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/8-things-you-can-do-to-prevent-a-stroke. Published June 2013. Updated August 22, 2018. Accessed February 4, 2020. 4. Exercise linked with lower risk of 13 types of cancer. American Cancer Society website. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/exercise-linked-with-lower-risk-of-13-types-of-cancer.html. Published May 17, 2016. Accessed February 4, 2020. 5. Exercise for your bone health. National Institute of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center website. https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health. Accessed February 4, 2020. 6. Yoga and MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Diet-Exercise-Healthy-Behaviors/Exercise/Yoga. Accessed February 4, 2020. 7. Bowling AC. Tai chi and qigong. In: Optimal Health With Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide to Integrating Lifestyle, Alternative, and Conventional Medicine. New York, NY: Demos Medical Publishing; 2014:317-322. 8. Harmon M. Exercise as part of everyday life. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/nationalmssociety/media/msnationalfiles/brochures/brochure-exercise-as-part-of-everyday-life.pdf. Published 2016. Accessed February 4, 2020. 9. Anderson P. Dancing with MS. Medscape website. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/845692#vp_1. Published June 1, 2015. Accessed February 4, 2020. 10. Fitness trend: Nordic walking. Harvard Health Publishing website. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/fitness-trend-nordic-walking. Published November 2019. Accessed February 4, 2020. 11. Adaptive tai chi. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Diet-Exercise-Healthy-Behaviors/Exercise/Adaptive-Tai-Chi. Accessed February 4, 2020.
COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults.
Do not use COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.