The benefits of exercise for MS
Regular exercise is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle but what should you do if you have an unpredictable condition that can leave you with no energy or motivation?
It’s no surprise that exercise is the last thing on your mind. The important thing to remember is anything is better than nothing and you may feel the benefits long-term from whatever you can do.
Exercise can improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, weight management, balance and coordination. It can also improve wellness and increase energy levels.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) can affect people differently so finding the right type of exercise to suit you is important. There is no one type of exercise recommended for people with MS so it’s down to you to decide what you enjoy and are able to do.
What constitutes a relapse?
A simple exercise such as walking, with or without a mobility aid, can have many benefits. It has been shown to reduce the overall risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.
The great part is it’s free and can be enjoyed socially or with a four-legged friend. Make sure you wear comfortable trainers and take plenty of water (and maybe a snack) with you.
It can be helpful to keep a symptom diary. Documenting the symptom, how long it lasts and how it affected you, for example, can help you define whether it is a relapse or not, and will also give your neurologist and MS nurse a clearer overview of how you experience MS and what they can do to help. Track your symptoms using the MS-UK symptom diary. Download your free symptoms diary here.
Choosing to swim is a great choice for someone with balance problems as your body weight is supported by the water. Weaker muscles can operate in this environment and will strengthen from the resistance created as you move through the water.
There are many swimming pools that offer sessions for people with disabilities, contact your local council to see what is available in your area.
Pilates is a popular exercise for its all-round stretching and strengthening regime, designed to improve strength, posture and flexibility. This is a low-impact and gentle form of exercise and can be completed standing up, seated or on the floor.
If you are experiencing symptoms or a change relating to mobility, muscle weakness, spasticity or balance, you can ask a GP for a referral to a physiotherapist or neuro-physio.
A neuro-physio can assess you and suggest a range of exercises or assisted movements to help with your symptoms and support you in coordinating movement, improving posture or targeting areas of muscle weakness.
Exercise with MS-UK
We offer online exercise sessions each week designed to help you stay active at home and manage your wellbeing. These classes offer accessible exercise for all abilities, social interaction and instruction delivered by our specialist, Alan Pearson.
For more information about exercise, read our free Exercise Choices booklet. Don’t forget, you can contact our helpline team free at 0800 783 0518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.