Don't forget to exercise!
This is no surprise, is it? After all, it can be extremely difficult to find the energy and/or motivation to exercise when we do not feel well, when we’re hit with major fatigue or having some symptoms flare up. In the 1970’s, it was actually believed that folks with MS should avoid exercise. Medical professionals thought that getting into a regular exercise regime would be detrimental to the disease. Then there’s the myth that exercising can actually cause a relapse. No wonder we’re discouraged!
So, how can we muster up the motivation to exercise?
I certainly don’t have the official playbook but, for me, it’s about choosing something I enjoy, cycling, and remembering the stats that prove just how beneficial exercise is to my life with MS.
Lack of exercise or inactivity can lead to some pretty serious health risks: weaker muscles, decreased bone density (read risk of fracture) and shallow and inefficient breathing. This fact is a huge motivating factor for me. Because I live with MS, I know that my body needs to be strong. Being strong helps to reduce bumping into walls (a favorite of mine), reduce the chances of falling and, ultimately, reduce the risk of getting seriously hurt.
On the days I feel up to it, I drive out to the ocean and go for a bike ride. My goal is to ride for about 20 miles so I get a good workout. The ocean breeze keeps my body temperature somewhat cool which helps so much. When I’m done, I feel amazing.
Yet, not everybody can ride the Tour de France (a woman can dream, right?)
We all live with different stages of our MS diagnosis and it may not be appropriate or possible to hop on a bike and ride for miles. So, here are a few tips:
- First things first. Consult with your physician. Together, you can figure out what type of exercise is appropriate and make changes if needed, as MS can be unpredictable.
- Remember that there is a wide range of exercises suitable for all levels of disability. Our friends over at MSTrust have a great booklet you can download (free!) which features exercises that can be done from a sitting or lying position.
- Add variety to your exercise regime. On the days I feel less energized or when I’m stuck at the office, I walk. I try to walk for 15 minutes, two or three times a day. This keeps my body moving.
- Listen to your body. Recovery time is longer for those of us living with MS so it’s important not to push too hard.
Now, I’ve only touched the surface here about exercise and all of the benefits. I would love to hear from you. What are some things you do to keep your body strong? What type of exercise do you enjoy? What are some of the challenges you face?
How do you stay active/exercise?
Does anyone else in your family have MS?