Careful exercise is best!

People with MS can enjoy the benefits of exercise. Even though exercise may present certain challenges, you can work with your individual abilities and needs as your symptoms and medications change.

Some people with MS may experience numbness, tingling, or blurred vision when they exercise. These symptoms are temporary and should subside within 35 minutes of stopping. You may want to ask a family member or friend to drive you to and from an exercise class or the gym, in case you experience these symptoms.

Ask your doctor, physical therapist, and fitness instructor for instruction and guidance on such issues as:

  • How to monitor your heart rate and breathing rate and reach your appropriate heart rate target range.
  • How to adapt and modify routines as your symptoms fluctuate.
  • How to both exercise and take your MS medications properly for best results (especially if you are taking antispasmodic medications).
  • How to manage symptoms such as heat sensitivity, poor balance, fatigue, muscle weakness, or muscle spasms.
  • How to modify exercises, especially if your symptoms cause muscle weakness or lack of coordination on one side of your body.
  • How to exercise at more challenging levels safely.
  • How to warm-up properly: Take 5 to 8 minutes to warm up and stretch before exercise. Warm-ups start blood flowing freely to muscles and set the stage for the greatest benefits from exercise. Stretching helps ligaments, tendons, and muscles to lengthen; helps maintain flexibility and range of motion; eases muscle soreness; helps prevent injuries; and shortens the time needed to recover from injuries.

Keep in mind that your warm-up should use the muscles you will be using during your workout, and should also include flexibility or stretching exercises. Think of your warm-up as a slower version of what you will be doing during exercise. For example, if you will be walking briskly, warm up with a slow walk first.

After your warm-up activity (the slow walk) you should do some stretching exercises. Be sure to choose flexibility exercises that stretch the primary muscles you will be using as you exercise.

And one last caution...exercise is fun, but make sure you don't overdo it! Doing too much too fast can lead to fatigue and an increased risk of injury. Start slowly and exercise a little longer at each session. If you exercise more slowly at the beginning, you might achieve more benefits in the end.

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