Diet and Exercise Tips to Fight MS Deconditioning and Fatigue
Last updated: September 2023
When it comes to the wide variety of MS symptoms, there may be none more dreaded than that of fatigue. A common symptom that is much, much more than simply being tired, fatigue can have a significant impact on the day-to-day lives of those with MS. There are a lot of areas we can look at to help improve our energy levels though. One important area for us to look at, is the condition of our body. Is it in shape enough to effectively use the energy we do have and not require more? So, let’s take a look at the value of nutrition, exercise, and making sure our bodies don’t become deconditioned.
I think it goes without saying that you want to have a healthy diet. I’m not saying you need to be extremely strict or anything. I think moderation is always a decent and attainable goal. It’s a worthwhile experiment to change up your diet and to see how it affects you. I think when people start thinking about their diet, they start thinking about some super strict plan or something that was created to sell books. If that’s what works for you, cool, but it doesn’t have to start or be that intense.
Small, sustainable dietary changes
You can start by making small, simple changes, in order to eat healthier. Maybe you drink less soda or try to make your meals more balanced by adding a few more veggies here and there. I think if you approach improving your nutrition by making small changes, you’re more likely to stick with something and be healthier. Take baby steps towards having healthier meals, you don’t need a book or a diet with a fancy name in order to do that.
If I mentioned nutrition, of course, I’m going to mention exercise. Being active isn’t easy for those with MS. Our mobility is affected and we can be sensitive to heat, not to mention the fatigue issue we’re trying to fix here. It’s difficult, and it may seem counterintuitive, too. We lack energy; won’t we wear ourselves out even more? We want to get exercise though, because if we don’t, we run the risk of deconditioning ourselves, the old, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” adage.
Deconditioning is a huge problem
Because it’s harder for those with MS to exercise, deconditioning is a huge problem in our community. If you don’t use your muscles, well, they get weaker from lack of use. If our muscles are weaker, it takes even more energy for us to complete tasks, making us more fatigued. I get it, it seems like a no-win situation. It helps to take the same approach I mentioned with nutrition: baby steps. Small changes.
Small steps to combat deconditioning
Start by walking down your hallway or Google some activities you can do from your couch. One of the best ways to approach exercise is to speak with a physical therapist who can teach you exercises that will work with your abilities. They can also help you specifically target muscles that are most at risk of deconditioning. A good physical therapist will give you the tools to improve yourself, no matter what condition you are or what abilities you have. Being a bit more fit and exercising your muscles will allow your body to move more efficiently and expend less energy.
Do you have some fatigue-fighting tips? Let us know in the comments below!
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