When people with multiple sclerosis exercise, it promotes the production of proteins called nerve growth factors. These proteins play an important role by aiding in the growth and maintenance of neurons in the brain. This is according to research by lead author, Ruchika Shaurya Prakash, in a study at Ohio State University.
The study looked at many things, including fitness, cognitive function, and changes in the brains structure. They studied 21 women who had RRMS or relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Exercise seemed to protect the brains of the women who were more fit. This finding makes a lot of sense.
These women were able to do better on cognitive function tests than women who were less fit. The brains of women who exercised more had more gray matter. This gray matter is what helps the brain process things better. There is also less damage to the brain where MS lesions usually show up. This is a very good reason for making exercise a part of your daily routine.
Here is what Ruchika Prakash said about their findings:
"Our hypothesis is that aerobic exercise enhances these nerve growth factors in MS patients, which increases the volume of the gray matter and increases the integrity of the white matter. As a result, there is an improvement in cognitive function," Prakash said.
"For a long time, MS patients were told not to exercise because there was a fear it could exacerbate their symptoms. But we're finding that if MS patients exercise in a controlled setting, it can actually help them with their cognitive function."
In a nutshell, when people with multiple sclerosis exercise, the following things can happen:
So the question is, are you exercising? If so, than you have a head start in keeping your brain healthy. You may even want to try adding more. If not, now is as good a time as any to start. Doing so will give your brain a boost and hopefully you can head off some of the damage that can result from of MS lesions.
But you may be asking the question, "what types of exercises are best for me as an MSer?" Click here to go find out.