Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the central nervous system. The disorder produces a broad range of symptoms, including fatigue and poor muscle coordination, which can make exercise daunting. Yet, research shows that in addition to prescription-based approaches, complementary therapies such as exercise may help to alleviate symptoms and minimize the risk of secondary conditions. Discover more about the relationship between exercise and MS below.
How Does Exercise Help MS?
Exercise has been shown to improve a number of MS symptoms. In addition to promoting better overall health, embarking on an aerobic fitness routine has helped people with MS improve strength and cardiovascular fitness, maintain better bladder and bowel function, and reduce fatigue and depression. Additionally, exercise program participants have reported a more positive attitude and increased social activity.
What’s the Best Type of Exercise for MS?
While light to moderate activity can help to control MS symptoms, any activity that’s too strenuous can have the opposite effect, exacerbating issues like fatigue and increased risk for injury. It’s, therefore, a good idea to work with a professional, such as a physical therapist, before beginning any new exercise routine.
Light activities like gardening, low-impact aerobic exercises, stretching, and progressive strength training are well-suited for many people with MS. Additionally, water-based exercises are especially ideal. Water provides buoyancy, enabling participants to move in ways they may not be able to on land while eliminating the risk of fall injuries. Plus, accessories like flotation vests and pool noodles can be implemented to maintain safety. Finally, the water keeps participants cool, thereby reducing the risk of overheating which can cause MS symptoms to flare.
If you’re interested in pursuing a fitness program to help manage your MS symptoms, be sure to work with your care providers to find an approach that will best suit you.