If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), it's important to stay active. Lack of physical activity can worsen the symptoms of MS. On the other hand, exercise can:
- Reduce depression and fatigue
- Increase muscle strength
- Improve balance
- Increase the amount of oxygen your body can use
- Improve bladder and bowel control
Consider these types of exercise
Some types of exercise that may help relieve some symptoms of MS include:
- Walking is a simple and inexpensive way to exercise. Try using a treadmill with adjustable speeds so that you can walk in a comfortable and climate-controlled environment.
- Swimming can help reduce fatigue and increase coordination in people with MS. It also prevents your body's temperature from increasing, so you're more likely to complete or prolong your workout.
- Resistance training using free weights or weight machines can help increase muscle strength and reduce fatigue. Consider working with a trainer to design a program that's compatible with your level of mobility and flexibility.
- Yoga can increase flexibility and help relieve tension. It can also decrease muscle tightness and improve your range of motion.
- Tai chi, considered to be gentler than yoga, can increase overall strength, flexibility and balance. It can also boost your aerobic capacity, which makes more oxygen available to your body.
Stay cool while exercising
MS symptoms can get worse when your body's temperature rises. To keep cool during physical activity:
- Wear lightweight, breathable clothing
- Exercise indoors in air-conditioned areas
- Swim in pools
- Drink cold beverages
Always consult with your doctor before making changes to your current levels of physical activity.
Nov. 14, 2013
- Motl RW, et al. The benefits of exercise training in multiple sclerosis. Nature Reviews Neurology. 2012;8:487.
- Harmon M. Exercise as part of everyday life. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/healthy-living/exercise/index.aspx. Accessed Oct. 10, 2013.
- Andresen AK, et al. The effect of exercise therapy on fatigue in multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal. 2011;17:1041.
- Foley F, et al. Taming stress in multiple sclerosis. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://mssociety.ca/en/pdf/ms-effects.pdf. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Heat and temperature sensitivity. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/exacerbations/heattemperature-sensitivity/index.aspx. Accessed Oct. 10, 2013.
- Rodriguez M, et al. Multiple Sclerosis. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press; 2013.