You can’t swing a sweaty workout towel these days without hitting an article or report about the health benefits of exercise to people with MS. “Exercise is quickly being recognized as one of the most important approaches for self-managing the consequences of MS,” said researcher Robert Motl in a November 7, 2017 MD magazine interview. Motl, PhD, Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, added, “Persons with MS who exercise can experience a range of benefits from improving symptoms such as fatigue and depression through optimizing quality of life.”
Motl, along with a team of international experts and researchers, examined the benefits of exercise to the MS population as well as exercise participation levels within that population. If Motl’s study served as a report card, let’s just say we’ve got room for improvement. A summary of their study, “Exercise in patients with multiple sclerosis,” in the Lancet reported that the MS “population typically engages in low levels of health-promoting physical activity compared with adults from the general population, a fact which has not changed in the past 25 years despite growing evidence of the benefits of exercise.” In other words, apparently we’re not bringing it.
With warm weather approaching in many areas of the world, it’s a great time to start establishing an exercise program. Here are some free or low-cost websites that can help (and as always, please consult your physician before beginning any new exercise or routine)!
Hosted by medical fitness practitioner and elite personal trainer Trevor Wicken, MS Gym is a free YouTube channel featuring multiple exercise “playlists” focused on general fitness for MSers (including upper body, core and length-strength) as well as very specific MS-related issues, including foot drop, walking, stretching to reduce spasticity and more. The MS-related exercises are posted live on Facebook every day of the week and on Saturdays users may participate in a real-time group session that works through every exercise from that week in a complete circuit. You’ll also find success stories along with inspirational and motivational videos to help you keep going.
Exercises for people with MS
Made possible by the UK’s MS Trust, this webpage features a comprehensive list of exercises “developed in partnership with a specialist neurophysiotherapist.” The exercises are separated into different categories based on the starting position (sitting, kneeling, standing or lying down) and the issues each exercise addresses, such as balance, posture or strength. Better yet, each of the exercises is depicted by a smiling animated stick figure who leads you through a complete workout of your design.
5 Yoga Poses for People with Multiple Sclerosis (+ Easy-to-Hard Variations)
Part of the Yoga Journal website, this page leads users through — you guessed it! — five yoga poses for people with MS. The poses vary from easy to more challenging to hard, require little more than a chair and a place to lie down and are readily depicted through a series of 15 photos.
Therapeutic Yoga for MS Videos
Created by Washington-based EvergreenHealth, this free, easy-to-use series of videos is led by Robin Rothberg, a certified yoga therapist specializing in multiple sclerosis. In 2011, Rothberg was asked to develop a yoga and exercise program for the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, Washington. That same year Rothberg’s husband of 33 years was diagnosed with MS. The series features exercise poses focused on breathing, core, lower back, neck and shoulders, balance and relaxation.
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