Exercise is indispensable in the treatment process of patients with multiple sclerosis . Although not exercising has many drawbacks, doing it sloppy or too much can be harmful. Motivating slogans such as “no pain no gain” or “feel your muscles are burning”, which are said to healthy people, are not valid for MS patients. Negative results such as muscle injury, increase in pain, fatigue, worsening in general condition may occur due to excessive exercise. For this reason, MS patients should listen to their physical therapy and rehabilitation doctors and physiotherapists before starting to exercise.
As a result of the physical therapy and rehabilitation examination, it is determined how long, how intensely and which type of movements are appropriate for the MS patient. Targets are set by determining the patient’s needs and treatment priorities. MS is a disease that can progress with worsening and improvement. The appropriate movement program may change according to the patient’s condition. For this reason, we recommend that you go to a physical therapy and rehabilitation physician for regular check-ups.
Benefits of Exercise in Multiple Sclerosis
In addition to its general health benefits, exercise is effective in relieving some symptoms related to MS disease. Exercises provide many benefits such as increasing heart and circulatory capacity, strengthening muscles, increasing bladder and bowel control, reducing fatigue and depression, improving morale and socializing. Even brain functions are positively affected.
The Harms of Inactivity for MS Patients
Apart from the benefits it provides, exercise is also valuable in terms of preventing many problems that can be brought by being inactive. With or without MS, a sedentary lifestyle increases the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Muscle and bone loss occurs. Respiratory capacity decreases. The person feels sluggish and weak. Depressive thoughts begin to dominate.
Exercises That May Be Suitable for MS Patients
Aerobic exercises: Aerobic exercises increase heart rate, blood circulation, and morale. Walking, running, cycling, swimming are some of the aerobic exercises. Patients with high stiffness and weakness in their leg muscles can perform aerobic movements with rowing, hand pedal and water exercises.
Stretching exercises: One of the most useful exercises to relieve muscle and joint stiffness is stretching-exercise exercises. Certain muscle-specific movements can be performed, as well as techniques such as yoga and tai chi. Stretching exercises also provide stress relief and relaxation.
Strengthening exercises: Muscle-strengthening movements can be performed with exercise bands or low weights in suitable patients. As muscle strength increases, the person’s mobility increases.
Exercise for MS patients does not necessarily have to be done as routine movements in a special room. Sometimes, activities such as house cleaning, gardening, cooking can also help a person get out of a sedentary life.
Tips for Safe Exercise
Do not rush: Be sure to do warm-up exercises first. If your movements are very limited, set yourself targets accordingly. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that you can only go to the end of the street or just take a tour in the corridor. Start with as much as you can and add it to your daily routine. If you do it regularly, the distance you can walk and the number of repetitions you can do will increase in days and weeks.
Do not neglect safety: Eliminate factors that increase the risk of falling, such as slippery floors, poor lighting, carpet that can become entangled. People at high risk of falling can do exercise bike or in-water movements more safely. Stretching, strengthening and movements that increase balance coordination help the person to move more safely both during exercise and in daily life.
Avoid Heat : MS can flare up in a hot environment. For this reason, it is useful to keep the temperature of the exercise environment under control. To prevent the person from getting too hot, activities can be broken up into small segments with breaks in between.