On the left side of a table a woman is replanting some potted plants while another adult is exercising in a chair at the opposite end of the table.

At-Home Exercise with MS

During this time of quarantine and social distancing, it can be hard to know how to stay active. For those with MS, it may not be comfortable to return to a gym or exercise class once those businesses re-open. Instead, many are choosing to work out at home.

To hear more about how the MS community is staying active, we reached out on the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook page, asking: “What is everyone doing to stay active these days? Any tips?”

More than 100 of you responded. Here is what you had to say.

“I walk around my neighborhood every day.”

By far, the most common response was walking. Walking is free and can be done almost anywhere. What’s more, someone can modify this exercise, such as with ski poles or a walker, to accommodate differing forms of mobility with MS.

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“We walk the dogs daily. Needless to say, the dogs do not let us forget their daily ritual.”

“Got my little ski pole walking sticks and go most days.”

“I walk with walker ½ hour to 45 minutes first thing before anything else.”

“We do gardening and yard work.”

So many folks with MS are also staying active by taking time to garden and catch up on yard work. This can be light exercise, or more challenging, and allows someone to go at his or her own pace. Plus, the results keep giving back.

“We do gardening and yard work. We have been painting, cleaning and sorting inside on rainy days. I work out each day climbing stairs, stretching and working on my PT exercises. I have actually been doing more than usual.”

“I do a little bit of walking and try to get in a little yard work, but I have to admit I have been doing a lot of reading lately.”

“I have been working out online with Zoom.”

Another popular option is online workouts and DVDs. Many have found live-streaming classes, or are using online tools like Zoom, Facetime and Houseparty to have sessions with trainers or friends. These online sessions are a great way to stay accountable, and, if with a trainer, to make sure that form is safe.

“I have been working out with light weights online with Zoom. MSforward.org. Good workout and it is pushing me. It is close to a live workout.”

“Leslie Sansone walking DVDs. And one with 20-minute strength training.”

“The trainer I was working out with 2 times a week is now doing her sessions via Zoom!”

“Virtual PT through Houseparty app with another MSer and our PT three one hour sessions a week.”

“I have also purchased some of the equipment I use in physical therapy.”

Others are finding ways to make workouts happen at home. People are buying exercise bikes, as well as equipment to do strength training in their living rooms and on their patios. Even without investing in any equipment whatsoever, one can put together a workout with simple exercises, such as squats, that rely on bodyweight to build strength.

“I have also purchased some of the equipment I use in physical therapy, so I follow as much of my routine as I safely can. After that I am pretty tired but I try to do this every day.”

“Exercise bike.”

“Lots of squats, pushups and crunches. If I can keep my muscles strong, it is OK to relax on cardio.”

“I lay in my bed and do leg lifts, body twists and arm swings. When I get tired, I rest. Then start again when I am ready. Laying on the floor hurts me and it is hard to get back up.”

“Got a 3-wheel trike.”

Bicycling, kayaking, and other outdoor leisure activities provide a nice alternative. For some, a 3-wheeled trike provides more stability, allowing one to cycle and enjoy the fresh air that way. For those who have access to water, kayaking is another relaxing option for exercise.

“Got a 3-wheel trike and I am trying to ride bike again. And it is working. I rode a half-mile yesterday.”

“A little kayaking.”

Thank you to everyone who shared their suggestions. Hearing tips from people with MS is great motivation and can help others get active.

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