Move it! Fatigue is a common symptom of MS. Developing an exercise plan that works for you and one you can sustain over time may help reduce certain types of MS-related fatigue. It’s of course important to work with your healthcare team to design a suitable MS exercise program.
- Gain endurance. Aerobic exercises are those that raise your heartbeat and respiration. Over time, a properly-designed aerobic exercise plan will make your heart and lungs stronger, thus giving you more overall stamina. You may still have days when the fatigue overwhelms you, but one study showed that fatigue was reduced in an aerobically-active exercise group.
- Strengthen muscles. You don’t have to aim to win a bodybuilder competition to gain the benefits from a regular regimen of resistance training. Several studies report that self-reported fatigue decreases among those with MS when they incorporate resistance training into their exercise programs. Start slowly with light weights, then gradually increase the difficulty level as you feel your body respond.
MS fatigue is real and there will be days when you might be accomplishing a lot just by getting off the sofa and making dinner for your family. Don’t deny yourself rest on those worst days. And don’t push your MS exercise regimen so hard that you actually worsen fatigue symptoms. Give yourself permission to just hang out on the couch and watch a movie marathon on those days when your MS fatigue wins out. Then, when your symptoms subside, put on your exercise gear and get busy sweating.
t’s hard to believe—just a decade ago, people with MS were encouraged not to exercise. A lot has changed since then. In the last 10 years, numerous studies have shown that working out regularly can benefit and rejuvenate you in many ways.
Before starting a new exercise program, talk to your doctor about which types of exercise will best fit your needs.
Exercising can help:
- Improve walking speed, posture, and balance
- Build endurance, strength, and cardiovascular health
- Decrease fatigue
- Reduce stress
Perhaps the biggest payoff is that exercise elevates your mood. With the help of a physical therapist, you can design a fitness plan that will help you feel better and more energetic. What’s the key to sticking with it? Talking with your doctor about a regular routine that offers activities that are both challenging and fun. And giving yourself plenty of breaks in between. Experts suggest that your plan should be tailored to your capabilities and within your comfort zone. The good news is that it’s never too late to start. With some modifications, people at all levels of ability can enjoy the many benefits of exercise.
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