Exercising as an MS Patient

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The first thing I think of when discussing exercise and MS is: reallyHow much do I have to do?

This article first appeared on Healthline Contributors on 10/14/13.

The first thing I think of when discussing exercise and MS is: reallyHow much do I have to do?

Let me start off by saying that exercise doesn’t have to be an hour-long hard workout at the gym, although if that is something you want to do and can…fantastic. There are certainly several exercises for MS that you can try[1].  For me, here is the work out that will benefits and could help you in your journey living with MS–even if you are in a wheel chair, have difficulty with walking, or have generalized body weakness concerns. This is simple to do once you make up your mind that it IS possible regardless of where you are at with your MS. I am sure of this possibility—as I am in the same exercise boat as you are, per se.

My Walks with MS by Lisa Dasis

I used to be in a wheel chair but thankfully to my medication and an unrelenting personal decision and goal that I had to achieve, I am now out of it and walking without assisted devices. This doesn’t mean that I can run marathons nor do I want to try but what it does mean is that exercising my muscles needs to be part of my continual routine and maybe it could help you too after discussing it with your physician.

Here are a few things it did for me:

  • Increases my body strength, whether it is upper, lower, or both
  • Increases my stamina and decreased fatigue
  • Releases endorphins which help me feel better
  • Burns calories
  • Assists in reducing stress
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Makes my body stronger so fare-ups don’t take such a toll on me

Let me start by saying if you are new to exercise, make sure your doctor approves this before you get started.  Also, begin by starting slowly and work at your own pace determined with your doctor.  You can always increase the activity.  For me, I started walking to and from my mailbox increasing the time spent walking with each day. This doesn’t sound very difficult; however, if you are new to walking again or have trouble walking at all this little bit can be draining at first. I took my time and used my assistance devices to help me.  Also, I always share with someone what I am doing in case of a fall or in case I might run out of every, so they can help me back to the house. Instead of viewing this as an embarrassment, I use it as motivation to be about to report on how well I am doing.  As I could tolerate more activity and walks, I continue to increase my speed as my body allows, or I walk a little further than I have previously. It takes time to build up muscle strength especially with us living with MS.

Over time I got to where I was walking 4 miles a day and experiencing fewer problems with my flare-ups. The strength I had built up also reduced falling and dropping episodes. I discovered that this activity and exercise also helped me feel better mentally. Even my physician noticed my increased strength during my check ups and it was noted that my balance continues to improve so much that I no longer walk with any assistance devices.

Every person’s journey with MS is different, so there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but by sharing my personal experience feeling as though I was at a deep valley with this disease, I certainly can attest now how much my simple walks with MS are helping me take back control and that feels great!

I hope you will find exercising as natural as I did—as easy as brushing my teeth and I promise you the benefits we all receive from exercise and appropriate activity at each of our own levels, will certainly outweigh any of negatives.

Off to my next walk around the neighborhood.

[1] http://www.healthline.com/health/multiple-sclerosis/exercises

MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.