Staying active when diagnosed with MS improves overall cardiovascular health, mental health, and helps to ease the symptoms of MS. According to the National MS Society, “A study published by researchers at the University of Utah in 1996 was the first to demonstrate clearly the benefits of exercise for people with MS. Those patients who participated in an aerobic exercise program had better cardiovascular fitness, improved strength, better bladder and bowel function, less fatigue and depression, a more positive attitude, and increased participation in social activities.”
Still motivation can be difficult even on the best of days. There are several key components to starting an exercise program that will work for you.
- Start slowly. Five or ten minutes of walking may be more than what your used to. Don’t overdue it! This is the number one reason many exercise programs fail. If you push it too hard the first week and your feeling more pain or having more symptoms, the last thing you will feel like doing is continuing to exercise.
- Track your progress in a small notebook so that you can see your achievements. This helps to inspire bigger and better performance as your body adapts to the changes.
- Exercise within your ability. If your symptoms are such that mobility is difficult; try swimming. Swimming is also a great way to stay cool and still meet your daily exercise requirements. Check with your local YMCA or other fitness facility to find a pool near you. Gently experiment with your abilities and find something you enjoy and look forward.
- Exercise during the cooler hours of the day, morning or evening to keep from overheating. Remember that heat can exacerbate the symptoms of MS.
- Exercising in segments can help you recoup quicker from each session as opposed to one long training session which may wipe you out.
- Listen to the signals your body sends you. You will come to easily know the difference between pushing your limits a tiny bit and out and out symptom exacerbation. You should never feel wiped out for days after a session; if so, you’ve gone at it a bit too hard. slow down some.
- Always stretch prior to any workout.
- Adjust your workout to your ability. If your feeling tired, skip the cardio that day.
- When using the cycles, use a toe strap. It will help keep your feet where they belong.
- Workout near where you can grab onto something if you lose balance.
- Tai Chi is an excellent form of exercise for MS. It can also be done in a chair.
- Use the facilities prior to working out to help with those sudden urges, and if you feel the need to go while working out, forget the reps and go! Motivation will wan if something like this gets in your way.
- Try not to plan to exercise if its going to coincide with the side effects of your medication. Some of our meds cause flu like symptoms, its just not the right time to try to keep up the program.
These are a few steps you can take to start an exercise program that will work for you. I would love input and suggestions from people and I will add to this post over time to improve it. Let me know what’s worked for you.