It is important to choose the right exercise option for you. The benefits of exercise only last while you stick with the program, so choose an activity that you enjoy. Some people prefer to participate in competitive group activities, such as versions of team sports that have been adapted to fit the needs of people with MS. Other people prefer exercising without a team or a partner. Try different exercise options, and see what fits your lifestyle.
Aquatic activities are usually considered the most appropriate form of exercise. The advantages of water activities over other options are:
- The natural buoyancy of water counteracts the effects of gravity, and allows movements that may not be possible on land for people with balance problems.
- Water provides enough resistance for an aerobic workout for both the upper and lower body.
- Water helps reduce body heat and prevent overheating.
Some people with MS, especially those with muscle tightness, find yoga to be a relaxing form of exercise. The deep breathing and meditation done in yoga also contribute to stress relief.
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that can be described as a series of graceful motions that resemble ballet. It can help improve strength, flexibility, and balance without hurting the joints.
Weight training is another option. Routines can be adapted to fit individual abilities, but keep in mind that a full weight training session is often too tiring to do. Try alternating with upper body exercise one day, and then lower body exercise the next day.
There are many other forms of physical activity for people with MS. These can range from simple activities (for example, hobbies such as gardening) to exercises with specific workout equipment.
Most exercise books and videos are geared towards the general public, and may not be appropriate for people with MS. Please consult your physical therapist or healthcare professional to determine whether these books and videos are right for you.
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