Keeping fit with MS
Lifestyle Article

Experts agree that staying active can be good for you and your MS. Exercise doesn’t only help manage symptoms such as fatigue and improve your muscular function. It can also be a great morale booster, giving you a sense of accomplishment and helping to improve your overall quality of life. And the great thing is that no matter what your fitness level or ability, there is something to suit everyone. Remember to talk to your doctor or MS nurse before trying any new exercises. 

Why is exercise important?

Similar to eating a diet rich in nutrients, exercise is a great way to keep the body functioning the best it can. It can even help to keep some of the symptoms of MS in check too! Speak to your doctor or MS nurse as they may be able to help you design a programme which is suitable and safe for you. But, if you need any more convincing on the benefits of working out, here are just some of the ways exercise could help with your multiple sclerosis:

  • Staying active can improve your overall health 
  • Help you to stay as mobile and active as possible 
  • Help you to manage MS symptoms  
  • Decrease your risk of heart disease
  • Improve your muscle strength and fitness (this can help with mobility and weakness problems)
  • Help you to manage your weight, but this is best in combination with a healthy diet
  • Improve your mood

Remember to talk to your doctor or MS nurse before starting any new exercise regimes. 

Ways to get moving

Here are some ideas to help you to keep active with multiple sclerosis…

Get on your bike
Cycling can be a relaxing and gentle way to be active with MS. Perhaps you could see if there are any recommended cycling routes in your area, or a local cycling organisation that runs group rides. Or, you could simply use an exercise bike at home or in the gym.

Hit the gym
Speaking of gyms, you don’t need to put yourself through a heavy workout to enjoy the benefits of your local fitness centre. Most offer varied programmes for people of all abilities; so check what’s available in your area. 

Walk on the wild side
Walking is great for improving fitness and getting plenty of fresh, healthy air. It can also be a good excuse to catch up with a friend, too!

Discover your green fingers
Gardening is not only a great way to remain active, you can adjust it to suit what you feel able to do, and you get to see the fruits of your labour every time you go outside. 

Exercise at home
Games consoles are great for the lounge and with so many different sports available, it means you can get active from the comfort of your own home. Why not try a home exercise DVD or have a look for a yoga video on YouTube, and why not ask a friend to do it with you? Remember, only do what you feel comfortable with and don’t try to push yourself too hard. It’s also best to talk to your doctor or MS nurse before trying a new kind of exercise. 

Get social
Check online or ask at your local community centre to see if there are any classes like Tai chi, yoga, aqua aerobics, singing, walking or music in your area. You could even set up your own group which would be a great way to meet with more people living with MS. 
If you have any other great ways to get moving, send them to us and we can add them to our list!

From the MS community

The MS community are not only very active online but in real life too. Knowing how beneficial exercise can be to their overall health and wellbeing has meant they’re busy keeping in tiptop shape. Here are just some of the ways in which they are putting their multiple sclerosis through its paces. 

JohanJohan has always been a fitness fanatic. In fact, it was during training for the toughest marathon in the Netherlands, that he was diagnosed with MS. But he didn’t let that stop him. He talks about his incredible journey so far, here.

PaulaAfter her MS diagnosis, Paula, discovered a passionate interest in all things health and fitness. And when she started seeing the positive results, her new routine became such an important part of everyday life. She explains more here.


Things to consider

As with any changes to your health and fitness regime, talk to your doctor or nurse first as they can tailor or find the best way to support the programme to your needs. This is especially useful if you haven’t exercised for some time or are thinking about increasing the amount you do. Here are a few things to remember before you get started…

keeping fit

Go slow
It is very tempting to exert yourself as much as possible as soon as you begin an exercise. But there is a very strong argument against doing too much, too soon. By working up to and towards longer and harder workout sessions, it’s easier to judge what your limits are. 

Warm up and cool down
Make it a habit to warm up and prepare your muscles through gentle stretching before you start. It’s the best way to limit sore and aching muscles. And as they always say, what goes up must come down. So, remember to cool down the muscles by stretching after your workout too. 

Stay cool (or warm)
For some, changes in body temperature can cause discomfort. So, if this applies to you, it is worth considering ways to keep cool before you exercise.

Maybe you could break up your work out into smaller sections with regular breaks or you could consider wearing cooling vests and taking cool baths. 

One of the simplest ways to do this is by keeping a cool drink to hand, this can also help to keep you hydrated. You can also talk to your doctor or MS nurse about the other cooling techniques that could help your MS. 

In the colder weather you might find that you’re struggling to stay warm. If this is the case make sure you wear warm clothes and layer up or even do some exercises inside where it’s nice and warm.

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