Good health and it's effect on the body can't every be underestimated. If your
health is as good as it can be, then even with multiple sclerosis (MS), you are
doing a good thing for your body. That’s why exercise plays a key roles in
living well with MS. If your body isn't kept healthy, then your immune system
can't be healthy. For your immune system to be at its best, despite its issue
with MS, exercise will help maintain it. Exercise will indirectly aid your
immune system by setting up your body to its most efficient state.|
A good diet and exercise plan takes motivation and persistence. Muscle burns
more calories than fat, therefore, exercise that maintains or increases muscle
is essential. One pound of muscle can burn approximately 25 times more calories
than a pound of fat. Muscle tissue uses the most energy and therefore,
determines the rate at which the body burns energy. This increases metabolic
rate. Without a proper regime, a dieter loses weight more slowly and has less
success of the excess weight staying off.
Exercise can help ease the symptoms of MS, but it's important to take
precautions if an exercise program is to be successful. It's important to not
overdo any exercise since it can be counterproductive for those with MS. If you
overdo it you can end up straining an already compromised muscular system,
increasing pain and causing your body and mind to become overstressed,
overworked, and overtired. Never exercise to the point of fatigue.
Being physically active is very important in living a longer, healthier life.
Physically activity can help relieve stress and provide an overall feeling of
well-being. Physical activity can also help achieve and maintain a healthy
weight and lower risk for chronic disease. The benefits of physical activity may
||Improves self-esteem and feelings of well-being
||Increases fitness level
||Helps build and maintain bones, muscles, and joints
||Builds endurance and muscle strength
||Enhances flexibility and posture
||Helps manage weight
||Lowers risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes
||Helps control blood pressure
||Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
Physical activity and nutrition work together for better health. In general,
being active increases the amount of calories burned. As people age their
metabolism slows, so maintaining energy balance requires moving more and eating
Some types of physical activity are especially beneficial:
– speeds heart rate and breathing and improves heart and lung
fitness. Examples are brisk walking, jogging, and swimming.
||Resistance, strength building,
and weight-bearing activities – helps build and
maintain bones and muscles by working them against gravity.
Examples are carrying a child, lifting weights, and walking.
They help to build and maintain muscles and bones.
||Balance and stretching activities
– enhances physical stability and flexibility, which reduces
risk of injuries. Examples are gentle stretching, dancing,
yoga, martial arts, and t'ai chi.
How Much Exercise
It's suggested that at the minimum, do moderate intensity activity for 30
minutes most days, or preferably every day. This activity is in addition to the
usual daily activities. Increasing the intensity or the amount of time of
activity can have additional health benefits and may be needed to control body
About 60 minutes a day of moderate physical activity may be needed to prevent
weight gain. For those who have lost weight, at least 60 to 90 minutes a day may
be needed to maintain the weight loss. At the same time, calorie needs shouldn't
be exceeded. Children and teenagers should be physically active for at least 60
minutes every day, or most days.
While 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activities provide health
benefits, being active for longer or doing more vigorous activities can provide
even greater health benefits. This will use up more calories per hour. No matter
what activity is chosen, it can be done all at once, or divided into two or
three parts during the day. Even 10-minutes sessions of activity count toward
Most adults don't need to see their health care provider before starting to
exercise at a moderate level. However, men over the age of 40 and women over the
age of 50 planning to start vigorous physical activity should consult a health
Individuals with one of the conditions below, as well as MS, should also consult
a health care provider for help in designing a safe program of physical
||A chronic health problem such as heart disease, high blood pressure,
diabetes, osteoporosis, asthma, or obesity.
||High risk for heart disease, such as a family history of heart
disease or stroke, eating a diet high in saturated fat, trans fat
and cholesterol, smoking, or having a sedentary lifestyle.
Types of Exercise
Exercise may be more difficult with MS, but there are ways to accommodate all
ability levels. Many studies have shown that people with MS clearly benefit from
exercise. Even people with advanced disease can benefit no matter how small the
exercise may be. Those with MS respond to exercise the same way as those without
MS in that they become more fit.
Different kinds of exercise help in different ways. Aerobic exercise (such as
walking) improves the fitness of your heart and lungs. Weight or resistance
training improves strength. Breathing exercises will help improve how well your
lungs work. Almost everyone can find some form of healthy physical activity that
is both challenging and fun. Whatever you choose, set realistic goals. Studies
show that people who start slowly achieve more in the end.
Water is an ideal environment for exercising your weakened limbs and muscles.
The reduced gravity and added buoyancy of water allows for more range of motion
and flexibility than you could get on land. Water also provides a cooling
effect, which can prevent overheating, often a cause of temporary worsening in
Yoga is a type of exercise in which you move your body into positions that
stretch your muscles and joints and make them stronger. Yoga also helps to
reduce stress. Many with MS have often reported that, after practicing yoga,
they are more relaxed and that many times, the severity of their symptoms is
reduced. They are able to feel more in their feet and legs, and are able to move
their legs more easily. Yoga postures release muscular tension through
stretching, and this relaxes the body and mind. The nerves are massaged and
stretched during yoga, releasing tension, and increasing the ability of the
nerves to communicate to the muscles and other parts of the body.
Special Exercise Concerns
One concern many people with MS have is that exercise can trigger a relapse.
This, however, is not true. None of the studies have shown that exercise leads
to an increase in disease activity or an MS relapse.
Some people with MS are sensitive to heat, which means they notice that their
symptoms either show up or get worse when their body temperature rises. This
can very easily happen when you exercise.
Heat sensitivity (or increased core body temperature) increases MS symptoms for
80% of those with MS. They may experience numbness, tingling, or blurred vision
when exercising. These MS symptoms shouldn't cause alarm since they are temporary
and should decline within half an hour after stopping you exercising. They aren't
a true relapse, but they may limit how long you can exercise.
To overcome heat sensitivity, many people with MS cool their body before or
during exercise. People can "pre-cool" by dunking themselves in cold water,
taking a cold shower, using ice packs, or drinking cold drinks. Cooling during
exercise can be done by exercising in water by swimming or water aerobics,
drinking cold drinks, or wearing a special cooling suit.
You should note that cooling isn't good for everyone. Temperature sensitivity
varies in those with MS and some people are actually helped by heat. It's just
another thing to think about when deciding what works best for you.
Best for You?
Every person's response to exercise is different. So if it doesn’t seem to help
you, don’t get discouraged. The way your MS is progressing can make a difference
in whether exercise helps you or not. That's why it's important to work with
your doctor to create your exercise program.
Your doctor can help you decide if there are certain MS symptoms that specific
exercises can help you with. Then, together you can choose what kind, which
combinations, and how much exercise will be best for you. Moderate exercise for
20 minutes a day can give you same benefits as intense workouts that leave you
tired and sweaty. Your program should be based on your unique needs, and should
change when your needs do.