With multiple sclerosis (MS), it’s not uncommon to feel so drained that exercise is the absolute last thing one would want to do. But there’s solid research revealing that a consistent exercise program can keep people with MS functional and healthier in the long term.
The unpredictable nature of MS makes it hard to know how it will advance in any one individual, but it is generally a progressive disease. Exercise cannot only stem this progression, but can – in many cases – provide symptom improvement. Research presented at the recent Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers 2015 Annual Meeting found that an enhanced exercise program staved off disease progression and even reversed some symptoms for most of the patients who participated. This program included not just physical exercise, but also occupational, hand, speech, cognitive, and behavioral therapies.
Of the 50 patients who participated over a 12-month period, nine out of 10 of them showed a better “MS functional composite score” (which is a standard way to assess MS). Specifically, patients fell less often, walked further distances, walked at a quicker pace, were more dexterous, and improved in cognitive function.
Even with all this good news about exercise, it’s important to remember that getting overheated can be counter-productive and worsen symptoms. Thus, avoid exercising in hot environments. Aside from that caution, there is every reason to get moving!
Grossman S. Exercise, behavioral therapy improves outcomes in multiple sclerosis patients. MPR June 2, 2015.