How Can Exercise Benefit Those Living With MS?

What is MS?

A chronic disease of central nervous system (CNS referring to brain and spinal cord). The immune system mistakenly starts to attack myelin, the protective coating around nerve cells in the CNS that assists with nerve conduction. The symptoms are unpredictable and vary from one individual to another.

Commonly Reported Symptoms:

  • Motor Control: muscular spasms and problems with weakness, coordination, balance and functioning of the arms and legs
  • Fatigue: including heat sensitivity
  • Other neurological symptoms: vertigo, pins and needles, neuralgia and visual disturbances
  • Continence problems: bladder incontinence and constipation
  • Neuropsychological symptoms: depression, cognitive difficulties and memory loss

How can exercise benefit those living with MS?

  • Improve fatigue levels and endurance
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Improve muscle strength
  • Improve posture and flexibility
  • Improve mood and sense of wellbeing
  • Improve alertness and concentration

In general, exercise has the same benefits for those with and without MS in increasing quality of life, independence, and reducing the risk of secondary complications due to inactivity.

Are there specific exercises you should be doing?

Fatigue- ensure you take frequent rest breaks and alternate the muscle groups targeted during exercise to help minimise the effects of fatigue.

Heat sensitivity- stay well hydrated throughout the session and during the day and try to keep cool with appropriate clothing.

Falls risk- if you find that you have difficulty balancing, be mindful of the risk of falls; use equipment that is safer/more stable and doesn’t challenge the balance too much.

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