Keeping Fit When You Have Multiple Sclerosis

It’s important to stay fit, especially as we grow older. Fitness is a combination of various factors, the most important of which are diet and exercise. And if you’re suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), it must form a very important part of your daily routine because:

  • It helps reduce the symptoms of MS
  • It aids the digestive process
  • It improves balance
  • It enhances flexibility
  • It gives you stronger muscles and bones
  • It prevents urinary incontinence

Exercise for the multiple sclerosis patient is never intense; in fact, each person’s routine depends on their condition, symptoms and the way they’re feeling that particular day. Some people may settle for a short walk every morning while others may prefer movements around the house like domestic work or gardening. Yet others may take on stationery cycling or yoga. Yoga, tai chi and other similar exercises help with full range of motion and regularize your breathing besides helping to reduce fatigue.

Swimming is an ideal exercise for those with multiple sclerosis because it exercises your whole body with the minimum of stress. It provides you with the right amount of resistance needed to help strengthen your muscles. Some patients are well enough to try aerobic exercises like riding a stationary bike; low intensity cardio workouts help boost your energy level.

It’s absolutely essential that you warm up for at least 5 to 10 minutes before beginning your workout session so that your nerve pathways get acclimatized to the movements you’re likely to make during the exercise. Drink water and other fluids so that your body temperature stays regulated while you exercise. It’s important that your core temperature stays stable at all times so that your symptoms are manageable.

Remember though, not to overdo anything and to consult your doctor before you take up any activity. You have to feel comfortable with anything you do and you certainly don’t want to cause yourself any undue stress. Most MS patients find that they do well when they’re helped by a therapist who designs exercise programs that are customized according to the severity of their symptoms. If you feel certain numbness or feel your vision blurring when you exercise, talk to your doctor so that you can adjust your pace according to your heat rate and breathing comfort.

As part of your fitness routine, it’s important that you pay attention to your diet as well. You need to include more wholegrain items to boost your energy levels, fresh fruits and vegetables to give the right amount of vitamins and nutrients, dried fruits and nuts like raisins and almonds and foods that contain polyunsaturated fats like fish. It’s best if you avoid alcohol, tobacco and foods high in saturated fats.