Not many years ago, people with multiple sclerosis were advised to stay in bed and not exert themselves. But over the last 20 years, research has shown that exercise benefits those with MS.
Patients energy and balance can increase, muscle atrophy can decrease, according to Multiple Sclerosis News Today. Spasticity (stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms) can be better controlled, and day-to-day life may be easier to manage.
The importance of exercise for people with MS was stressed by Susan E. Bennett, a clinical professor at the departments of Rehabilitation Science and Neurology at the University of Buffalo and an associate in the UB Neurosurgery department at CMSC 2016, according to Multiple Sclerosis News Today.
Though the progression of the disease is not slowed by regular exercise, cognitive ability and depression can decrease, and an overall sense of well-being can increase.
"Now what’s been shown is 20 minutes of moderate exercise with someone with MS actually promotes the secretion of brain-derived growth factor,” said Bennett.
She suggested that exercise time should be short at first, slowly building up to 20 minutes in a day. The type of MS medication someone takes or the type of MS they have does not seem to affect the benefit exercise offers to MS patients.
Bennett gives the same advice to those with primary progressive MS (PPMS) as she does to those with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).
About 15 percent of those with MS have PPMS, where symptoms continue to worsen, without remission. RRMS is the most common form of MS. Relapses, also called exacerbations, will be followed by remissions which are partial or total recovery for a temporary period.
A University of Utah study from 1996 was the first research to indicate that people with MS who exercise aerobically can experience improvement in strength and cardiovascular condition, and better elimination. They may be less tired or depressed. They may be more inclined to be sociable. Cognition and mood may be elevated.
They may have less risk for coronary heart disease, or bone fracture. Their muscles and bone density may improve.
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What Does Moderate Exercise Mean, Anyway? Health.clevelandclinic.org. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
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Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms Can Benefit from Moderate Exercise. Empowher.com. Retrieved July 30, 2016.