Plenty of us have a problem with getting enough exercise on a regular basis. For those with multiple sclerosis, the difficulties are magnified.
While exercise can help to lessen depression, fatigue, muscle weakness and sleep issues people with MS start out with a plate full of those difficulties.
Some of the other unpleasant markers of MS are muscle stiffness, spasms and weakness, unsteady balance, shaking and co-ordination problems. For some these symptoms will ebb and flow, becoming less in remission, but they can also increase in severity often without warning.
It is possible that regular exercise can cause significant improvement as to how the illness plays out for the individual, not just during acute attacks but in terms of the chronic long term effect.
People with multiple sclerosis who can carry out regular exercise will often find benefits in their general health and ability to function.
According to an article on Overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org, research has found that two proteins may help to protect and repair neurons in MS. These proteins are brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF). The protein levels are increased by exercise.
Endorphins are manufactured during exercise which helps to relieve stress and increase a sense of wellbeing.
Aerobic exercise can bring improvement for the cardiovascular system, and strength in their arms and legs. A decrease in fatigue and depression makes life easier. And this improved status overall can help to ease MS attacks in their severity.
Aerobic exercises like cycling, running and swimming are encouraged.
Inflammation is a going concern with multiple sclerosis. Exercise now is believed to have an anti-inflammatory benefit.
This has been instrumental in a shift from the old belief prevalent in the 1970s that exercise should be avoided by those with MS to protect them from possible deterioration in their health.
For those who, before illness, believed in taking on everything in life by going all out, a new paradigm is necessary. Moderation is now key.
Yoga can be beneficial, as it gently stretches and strengthens muscles.
Swimming is also a gentle exercise, as moving in water causes less stress on the body, and less inflammation while working out.
Light resistance training increases muscle endurance without overtaxing them.
Health care advice as to how to proceed can be most valuable for the MS patient. MS organizations can help by offering moderate exercise through occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
March has been MS Awareness Month since 2003 when the first official U.S. multiple sclerosis awareness month campaign was held. March 3-9 was MS Awareness Week this year. The theme for National MS Education and Awareness Month, 2014, is "MS Counts."
MS: Exercise Tips. Chealth.canoe.ca. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
Exercise. Overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org. Retrieved March 17, 2014. http://www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org/Recovery-Program/Exercise/
Three Exercises That Benefit People With MS. Beatmultiplesclerosis.com. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
What is National MS Education and Awareness Month™? MSFocus.org. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
MS Awareness Marches Forward this Month. Empowher.com. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca
Reviewed March 18, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN