What types of multiple sclerosis exercise are recommended for you if you have this condition? Good question. MSers have so many different types of symptoms to deal with, any type of exercise can be difficult or even impossible. Years ago exercise was discouraged because it was thought to cause exacerbations or flare-ups.
Doctors recommended that their patients go home and rest so that you wouldn't get overheated. This was tied to the fact that heat often led to extreme fatigue or weakness. This could cause an MSer to go into a relapse.
Many MS patients ended up taking their doctor's advice and not doing anything. The obvious happened - their muscles began to atrophy and as a result soon they could no longer use them. This, on top of the actual MS symptoms, like weakness and fatigue, can make you, as a person with MS, feel like you were fighting a losing battle.
Times have changed, though, and doctors and therapists now recommend that you “use it, or lose it”, Of course if you get overheated, you can become weak or fatigued. Then you should stop and rest. This fatigue or weakness will go away and you can resume your activities. The trick is to know your limitations and not take on more than you can handle.
Ideally the exercise you choose should be within you current abilities. If you feel you can do yoga and don't have balance issues at the moment, go for it. If you can still walk, by all means walk or hike. If you need a cane to help steady yourself, that's fine too. You just have to realize you'll need to be a little more careful than the next person.
And if you are at the point where you regularly use a walker or rollator, walking is still possible, but distance may be an issue. Your walking may be limited to walking around your apartment complex or making it from your door to your car. At least you are walking.
One way to evaluate whether an exercise is right for you is to try it and see if it tires you out quickly. If it does, then you either need to adjust the way you do it or how long you do it. There are so many choices you can make when it comes to multiple sclerosis exercise.
Here's a short list of possible exercises you can try.
This list is by no means an all inclusive list. If you can't do any of the activities, don't push yourself or feel bad. If you have mobility or weakness in your legs, arms, or hands, it just may not be safe to do certain exercises. Look for adaptive classes in your area.
Many teachers give classes with modified forms of yoga or tai chi for people who need to sit or that use wheelchairs. Many times swimming is used by therapists to help retrain or regain the use of arms or legs. So if you know how to swim, go ahead and test the waters.
The bottom line when it comes to exercise for MSers, is to do something when you can. Don't just give up on walking when you are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. If you can still walk a little bit, do it. And if you need mobility aides to help you feel safe, use them. Cir often says as long as his legs work, he will use them and continue to walk, even if it's just a little bit everyday.
There are days when he needs to use his power chair to get around, but when he feels up to it, he walks. Exercise for MSers is a little different than for most people. Depending on your level of disability, your exercise might either be a marathon or a walk from one end of the house to the other. Both are good for the person doing it. Whatever you can do, you should do it.
Whether you can do ten wall push-ups or five sitting toe raises, do them. Sit in a chair and hold a soup can in each hand. Bend your arms, then lift your hands up. Every little bit helps. If you suffer from depression, some types of exercise can help alleviate this symptom as well. Look into taking an exercise class for MSers or people with disabilities.
If you can't find a class or if getting to the class is an issue, look on the internet. You Tube has many options if you search for modified exercise videos. Don't give up on yourself. We aren't giving up on you either. Let don't forget to let us know how it goes.
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Cir & Akrista
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