MS and exercise


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Yes, I know. We all should exercise. It is good for our heart, our cholesterol, our brain, etc. We all know we should do it, but we don’t. I am the perfect example. My doctor has been telling me for years that exercise is the best thing for MS. It keeps up our muscle tone, keeps the blood pumping and keeps us fit. For someone like me, when I have an attack, I get weak and have trouble walking. He told me the more I exercised, the better shape I would be in, so the attacks wouldn’t last as long and hit as hard. I heard him say it, I just didn’t really listen.

So about a year ago, I bit the bullet.

And it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I started going to the gym (which is NOT my favorite) and worked with a trainer. He knew about my health situation and worked with me. We slowly started building up some strength, especially upper body where I was sorely lacking. We set up a schedule of my workouts so I didn’t get bored. Some days were arms, some legs, some back and shoulders. Some were cardio, some were push and some were pull. I did free weights, machines, balance ball (excellent for restoring my loss of balance), medicine balls, resistance ropes, ellipticals, treadmills and bikes. When I felt up to it, I ran stairs and did deep knee bends. I was on fire!

But alas, an attack hit and I stopped. But as soon as I felt well enough I was back at it. And do you know why? The attack didn’t last as long as they used to. I was already seeing an improvement in my strength. Don’t get me wrong: I was still having trouble walking, but it was getting easier. So I went back to the gym. And now when I am feeling good, I feel GOOD. I have so much more energy and strength. And it is pretty nice to look in the mirror and see some of the results!

My ipod has different “GYM” playlists, just to keep me moving. I get bored and I have to really push myself some days to go. So I am not here to preach – I was an anti-gym person, but I have seen the remarkable difference in my recovery times from attacks, my overall stamina and my general outlook.

I also joined a yoga class. I was initially a naysayer – I thought yoga was all about chanting and mumbo-jumbo. Was I wrong. I found an excellent instructor (Hi Laurie!) and realized the difference yoga made. My balance improved tenfold. My posture is straighter and I had some muscles I didn’t know existed. This type of yoga is not for everyone; it is an active yoga, so if you have trouble walking or standing, looking into an assisted yoga. But look into it, because it is amazing!

Remember with MS overheating is not good – it is cause a flair up of symptoms (Uthoff’s phenomenon). So stay cool, stay hydrated.

“If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), exercise can help retain flexibility and balance, promote cardiovascular fitness and a sense of well-being, and prevent complications from inactivity. Exercise also helps regulate appetite, bowel movements and sleep patterns.

Jogging, walking and aerobic exercises are helpful when strength and coordination are not affected. Stationary bicycle riding may be more practical if walking or balance is impaired. Swimming is helpful for stretching and cardiovascular fitness. Yoga and Tai Chi are most useful for stretching and promoting a sense of well-being. Your physical and occupational therapists will assist you in selecting the best exercise program for you to follow.” http://www.ucsfhealth.org/adult/medical_services/neuro/msclerosis/msExercise.html

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