Through research, it has been established that there are certain exercises that are considered suitable and right for multiple sclerosis patients. If the exercise program is carried out as outlined, it does not relapse or worsen the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The five most basic and essential exercises set out below have proven to be beneficial to people with multiple sclerosis in general terms:
- Aerobic Exercise
- Range of Motion
Aerobic exercises are energy-consuming exercises that require much physical input from the participants. These exercises include activities such as running, swimming, cycling, and rowing, among others. It is important for people with multiple sclerosis to first determine the state of their multiple sclerosis symptoms before doing any of these exercises. You also need an expert’s advice before you choose your preferred method of exercise. Doing so will help you minimize the risk of worsening your MS symptoms emanating from engaging in exercises that are not fit for you.
Aerobic exercises may not be the right type of exercise if one is just starting the exercise program. The instructions you obtain from your physician need to be strictly understood and followed before you commence.
Range of Motion Exercises
In these exercises, the participants are involved in the movement of body parts. The most common parts that needed in this exercise are the legs, ankles, arms, and wrists. Single and double arm raising are best for hand exercises. The aim here is to make circular patterns that cover a wide area. It is advisable that you indulge in these exercises cautiously as they can cause some unintended effects, thereby worsening the MS symptoms.
These exercises stretch the muscles of your body. Stretching exercises can be achieved by knee bending, leaning sideways, lunge, and knee rolling. These exercises usually leave the muscles more relaxed and flexible. Stretching should be done daily for about 10 minutes after a warm-up exercise.
Stretching should be focused on the body's main muscles and can be done after you’re done with the workout. Together with aerobic exercises, stretching exercises improve the endurance and strength of your body.
These exercises require the change of your body alignment (posture) by engaging in several different exercises. Balance, kneeling, and core stability exercises are the most common examples practiced. Others include sitting with your pelvis tilted, bending your knee while you are standing, and hip hitching. Doing these exercises consistently enables your head, pelvis, feet, shoulders, and knees while maintaining proper alignment in addition to a reduction in muscle strain.
Breathing exercises both in the abdominal and diaphragm muscles leave our posture more improved. These exercises can be carried out on a less-serious occasion such as while laughing or singing. It can also be done anywhere and at any time when one feels the urge to do so. They are characterized by timed periods of inhaling and exhaling.
Benefits Obtained from Exercises for People with Multiple Sclerosis
- It leaves you less depressed and improves your mood.
- It enables control and management of one’s weight and avoidance of obesity.
- There is an improvement in your mental well-being and your thinking is clear.
- It improves the optimal functioning of body organs, which means that your bladder and bowels are fully operational, and are less likely to bring you problems.
- For exercises that are done in groups, the self-esteem of the participants is boosted, and their social life is improved.
- Your strength is significantly increased together with your mobility and flexibility.
Considerations to Make Before Exercising
You need to set achievable and realistic goals before starting an exercise program. The best exercise program for you should be obtained from your doctor. You also need to keep your doctor informed about the progress of your exercises and consult him about any issues that you are unsure about.
The Exercise in Detail
The types and classification of exercises have already been discussed above. Keeping those in mind, you can choose some easy exercises that do not cause your body to exert more effort or overheat. It is important to prevent extra strain on the body. Depending on the stage the patient is in, the exercises must be chosen in accordance with the capacity of fulfilling them. If needed, you can check with your doctor and get advice from your instructor as well. Taking it slow and steady is necessary.
- Squats: Squats are mild, yet a great source of getting the lower body in shape. They also help tone the muscles in the thighs and pelvis. Care must be taken to do squats in the correct posture. Hold your back straight, and avoid leaning forward, to prevent imbalance and postural damage.
- Planks: Planks are good for core strengthening. It requires you to face the ground and support your body by contracting the stomach and pelvic muscles, using your hands and elbows to balance. Lifting your body off the ground, and staying in that position for a few seconds per lift helps in developing the muscles around the core, making them strong and tight.
- Push-ups: Push-ups help the upper and lower body. If you want to focus more on your arms and torso, try doing wall push-ups. This variant helps the biceps and deltoid in toning and strength gaining. Either way, the focus is on attaining the right position upon lifting your body off the surface or towards the wall, such that you feel a stretch in your thighs and calves.
- Lunges: Lunges help in training the lower body and the focus here is on stretching one leg while folding the other. This alternate set of movements gives the body just the tone and pace it requires.
- Walking and Running: Both walking and running are the simplest forms of exercises that boost your energy, uplift your mood, and help you in maintaining good health. Although simple, they can be regulated as per capacity and can be continued for a prolonged period. They are good for the overall health of the mind, body, and heart.