Exercises like yoga and aquatic programs can help ease some symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), especially fatigue, depression and paresthesia, researchers report in a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, and titled “Exercising Impacts on Fatigue, Depression, and Paresthesia in Female Patients with Multiple Sclerosis.”
The incidence of depression in MS patients is 40 percent to 50 percent higher than in the general population. Two-thirds of these patients are also plagued by excessive fatigue, severely reducing their physical activity, and up to 87 percent report being troubled by paresthesia, or numbness and tingling, especially in the extremities.
Standard treatment for MS consists of immune modulatory medication, though there is growing evidence from published studies that exercising programs have a positive influence on fatigue and on psychological symptoms such as depression.
Researchers from the University of Basel and the Psychiatric University Clinics Basel, along with colleagues in Kermanshah, Iran, randomly assigned 54 women with MS to one of the following programs: yoga, aquatic exercise, or no exercise at all (the control group). At baseline and at study completion, all MS patients completed a questionnaire about their symptoms, and all continued with their existing therapy, including any medication to control the immune system.
Compared with the control group and over time, researchers found that fatigue, depression, and paresthesia were significantly reduced in MS patients who had yoga and aquatic exercise three times per week.
On study completion, the likelihood of moderate to severe depression was 35-fold higher in controls than in patients in either exercise program.
“Exercise training programs should be considered in the future as possible complements to standard MS treatments,” the researchers concluded, according to a press release.
MS is a chronic autoimmune demyelinating and inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS). Demyelination in association with axonal damage leads to the slowing or blockage of nerve signals, which can result in such MS symptoms as visual problems, fatigue, pain sensations of tingling, tickling, pricking, and burning (paresthesia), and problems of movement and balance.