The importance of staying active with Multiple Sclerosis

19 Jul 2021 | Advice, Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks a substance called myelin which protects the nerve fibres in the central nervous system. As a result, the brain and spinal cord are affected.

Although (MS) is currently a lifelong condition for which there is no cure, regular exercise can help ease some of the symptoms. Exercise is central to a positive lifestyle and that can help slow the progression of the disease.

How regular exercise can help 

People with MS can benefit both physically and mentally from a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity at least three days a week. 

Physical benefits of keeping active with MS 

  • Muscles that are not used regularly can become weakened which result in more energy being required to carry out everyday tasks.
  • Regular moderate exercise can build strength, increase stamina and fitness, whilst also improving balance and posture contributing to improved mobility.
  • Keeping active regularly has also been shown to reduce the impact of pain and fatigue.
  • Studies have also shown that regular exercise can give better control over bowel and bladder function.
  • Alongside these physical benefits, keeping active can help to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of co-morbidity (having more than one disease or condition at the same time).

Mental benefits of keeping active with MS 

  • There is some evidence to suggest exercise may be be neuroprotective where nerve cells can be protected against damage, degeneration, or impairment of function.
  • Regular exercise can also improve cognitive processing speed, visuospatial memory, executive function which include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control, and cognitive flexibility.
  • Additionally, keeping active can improve the symptoms of depression.
  • An active lifestyle can also contribute to a general sense of wellbeing and quality of life.

The importance of keeping your cool 

Overheating is a common symptom for people with multiple sclerosis. Temporary flare-up of symptoms (known as pseudo-exacerbation) can be experienced when becoming overheated. Whilst these temporary symptoms do not advance the disease, they can be uncomfortable so how can exercise still be enjoyed whilst keeping cool?

  • Wear specialist appropriate sports clothing that is designed to keep you cool.
  • Where possible, exercise in a cool environment to minimise the chance of overheating. For example, if you are exercising outdoors, the early morning or evening are typically cooler times of the day. If you are exercising indoors, where possible stay within an air-conditioned environment or use a fan.
  • A cool, wet cloth worn around the neck can help regulate body temperature. Specialist cooling vests and neck bands can also be used.
  • Try to have a cool shower or bath immediately after exercising.

Supporting our clients to stay active with MS 

With common symptoms including fatigue, weakness, and poor coordination, for some people with MS, the prospect of exercise can be daunting. It is therefore vital that an individual approach is taken. Any type or intensity of exercise which exacerbates symptoms should be avoided.

An appropriate exercise plan can be created in consultation with the wider team managing the care of our clients with MS. Our companions at Eximius play a vital role in ensuring our clients with MS carry out regular and appropriate exercise. Eximius companions drive, provide company and organise exercise classes for clients and activities include swimming, arm cycling, sailing, and boating, bowling, golf, and archery.

Our clients with MS are supported whilst maintaining as much independence as possible through the provision of our high-quality personalised care within their own home.

If you or a loved-one would like to understand more about how we care for our clients with MS, or about any of our other live-in care services, e.g. respite, day, night or clinical care, please get in contact, we’d love to help.