Exercise Relieves Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

It’s World Multiple Sclerosis Day today so it’s a great time for people with multiple sclerosis, or those close to people suffering from MS, to consider different ways to manage the disorder and avoid flare-ups and issues. Multiple sclerosis is a common chronic inflammatory disorder. MS affects the central nervous system.

Multiple sclerosis affects millions of people across the world, causing a wide range of system affecting the overall performance and functionality of the body. Scientist and researchers have discovered a variety of drug-based and natural approaches to treating MS and symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Physical therapy is a highly recommended method of treatment for the disorder. Exercise and physiotherapy have been proven to improve the individual outcome in many cases of multiple sclerosis, but patients of MS are recommended to begin physical activities and treatments under the supervision of a professional and with the recommendation of a doctor.

This article offers an overview of how exercise may affect a patient with multiple sclerosis and provides some suggestions on the best exercises for MS patients.


Is Exercise Good Or Bad For MS?

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis patients commonly suffer from symptoms like fatigue, poor coordination, and weakness. These symptoms can make exercise a very difficult and tedious task. Despite the challenges that MS patients may face while exercising, the benefits should be considered as well. Multiple sclerosis patients are warned to be careful during intense physical activities and attack their workout regiments with moderation and care. It is recommended for patients of MS to consult with a doctor when planning a workout regimen to help manage their symptoms. There are some risks or side effects associated with exercising while diagnosed with MS. If workouts are too intense, patients may experience injuries, severe fatigue, and increased symptoms. When done properly after consulting a doctor, exercising can likely be a huge benefit for patients of MS.  There are endless benefits of increased physical activities for patients of MS, increased strength and energy levels, enhanced balance, decreased spasms and muscle-related symptoms, and improved bladder and bowel control are just a few.

Some people are wary about the physical activity when diagnosed with MS, many ask the question: “does working out make MS worse?” Multiple sclerosis patients should take an easy and gentle approach when exercising and participating in physical activity. Some adverse side effects of intense workouts may range from blurred vision and numbness throughout the body, to increased body temperature. In most cases, these symptoms will subside when exercise is regular and moderate.

It is recommended for multiple sclerosis patients who are making new changes to their physical regiment to consult an exercise physiologist for a customized exercise plan to treat multiple sclerosis symptoms through exercise. An exercise physiologist can help create a proper routine and assist patients when they experience difficulties during physical activity. Anyone with multiple sclerosis has the chance to create an exercise routine modified for their specific needs and capabilities.


Exercise Benefits Multiple Sclerosis

Flexible manStudies have shown that physical activity and exercise are beneficial for the body, whether someone is suffering from an illness or not, proper physical activity can be a major improvement to health and the human body. There are many benefits of exercise for patients of multiple sclerosis. Studies have proven that inactivity in patients of MS can result in an increase of symptoms suffered and additional health issues. Health issues from inactivity and lack of exercise may include, but is not limited to, coronary heart disease, weak muscles, breathing, and respiratory problems, as well as low bone density.

Below is a list of some of the common benefits of exercise for people with multiple sclerosis. Also check out our post on how exercise can improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

  • Overall improved health – Better feedback from check-ups and doctor appointments
  • Improved and enhanced cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased strength levels
  • Improved attitude and overall mental health
  • Decrease of incidents of fatigue and depression
  • Increase in positivity and a better attitude
  • Increased energy to participate in social activities with family and friends
  • Increased flexibility
  • Better brain activity and cognitive functions


Best Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis

People diagnosed with multiple sclerosis are encouraged to choose a workout regiment specified for their abilities. Moderation and a specified regiment will help avoid adverse effects of overworking the body. Workout routines should be timed and monitored to avoid overexertion. If you’re wondering what is the best exercise for MS patients, the answer is different depending on the specific symptoms and experiences of the patients. With that considered, there are many exercise regiments generally recommended for MS patients. Here are a few to consider below.

Recommended Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis Patients:


Yoga – Low or high-intensity stretching exercises

Tai Chi – Energy focused workouts that can be low or high intensity depending on ability

AquaticsWater workouts that will help with movement

Cycling – Monitored aerobics

Balance training – Helps with cognitive functioning and bone density

Gardening & Boating – Regular activities within the home and outside the home

When choosing activities for MS patients, be sure to consider if the exercise or physical activity is enjoyable and modified for the physical ability of the patient. Be sure to monitor periods of fatigue after the workout regiment. If the patient suffers from fatigue for over two hours after the workout, consider changing the intensity level and frequency of the routine.  

It is recommended to take an integrated approach when creating a workout regiment for patients of multiple sclerosis. Consider splitting the workout into five components to increase productivity and effectiveness. The five major elements of a workout routine for MS patients should include cardiovascular, endurance and strength, flexibility, balance, and relaxation. Keep in mind that the cooldown and stretching aspects of the workout are just as important as the strength and cardio elements.


Stress Triggers Multiple Sclerosis

One of the main benefits of exercise for multiple sclerosis patients is a reduction of stress levels in people who are consistently active. Studies have shown that high stress levels can be a trigger for many diseases and disorders.  This is the same for multiple sclerosis patients. Many people with the disorder have asked: “Can MS be caused by stress?” There is a probability that stress can lead to many issues within the body, with MS, studies have shown that emotional stress may trigger some of the common symptoms associated with the disorder. It cannot be directly stated that stress is the cause of multiple sclerosis, but it can be stated that stress can activate a negative reaction from the immune system which triggers an inflammatory reaction and ultimately leads to flares in symptoms of MS.

Staying active and incorporating an exercise regiment for patients with multiple sclerosis can be highly beneficial. Contact Live Well Rehab for an appointment with an exercise physiologist to increase your daily activity and provide positive benefits for MS patients.

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