This post is a continuation of an earlier post titled Boost Wellness with MS. We discuss the importance of Physical Exercise for MS patients in this post.
Pakistanis are not big fans of exercising. The benefits of physical activity do not carry much value to them and they don’t see any harm in avoiding it. Moreover, they don’t consider it an essential part of wellness. Although chronic diseases convince them to move a couple of muscles, few do so with enthusiasm and commitment.
Exercise is important for every person, but is necessary for patients with Multiple Sclerosis. After reading this article, you will understand the reasons to exercise and problems you may welcome if you do not make physical activity part of your daily routine. We will also describe some precautions you should take before working out.
What if MS Patients don’t exercise?
A lazy person’s favorite thing to do is not to do anything at all. An MS patient can say that a number of hurdles come in their way when they think about following an exercise program. These problems include heat intolerance, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and pain which patients may feel after the session. But, the question remains, what if you don’t exercise? Not doing exercise will lead to deconditioning which reduces your functional abilities over time. The result is that your disease worsens.
You have to choose your exercise program with care and wisdom; one which is designed according to your symptoms. A trained and experienced physiotherapist will help you in this regard. He or she will evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and know your limitations and devise a program accordingly.
Benefits of Exercise for MS Patients
The role of physical activity in Multiple Sclerosis was not recognized a few years back. However, many studies today emphasize on the fact that exercise is beneficial in the disease.
A research by White & Dressendorfer, conducted in 2004, advocated that a physically active lifestyle can reduce the progress of the disease. Moreover, exercise is not found to have any negative impact on the severity or degree of the disease.
Another study showed that patients who were physically fit had less damage in parts of the brain which were deteriorated due to MS.
“We found that aerobic fitness has a protective effect on parts of the brain that are most affected by multiple sclerosis,” said Ruchika Shaurya Prakash, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
Exercise is found to be beneficial for MS patients in many ways such as:
- Reducing relapse rate
- Improving performance on neurological tests
- Improving strength
- Slowing progression of the disease
- Improving muscular spasm
- Lowering lesion volume
- Improving balance & coordination
- Preserving mobility
- Reducing fatigue
- Improving cardiovascular fitness and
- Amending bladder and bowel function
Safety Measures to Adopt
- Exercise in a safe place. Avoid slippery floors and poor lighting
- Do not lift heavy weights if you have trouble with your balance as you may injure yourself. It is better to work out within reach of a grab-bar or rail
- Stop any time you begin to hurt or you feel sick
- Choose an activity you enjoy and have fun with it. It may be aerobics, Tai Chi, yoga or any other
What to do if you get overheated?
Majority of patients with MS develop heat intolerance. Therefore, exercising for longer periods invites problems for them. If you are one of those, then follow these tips:
- Drink plenty of cool water. You need to keep yourself hydrated while working out
- Avoid exercising during the hot part of the day (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
- If you notice any symptoms that you didn’t have before you started exercising, slow down or stop until you cool down
- Wear light clothes when you work out
Be sure to check some of the older posts we shared on exercising with MS:
Do you exercise regularly with MS? Let us know in the comments below.