Working Out The MS

I was 22 when I got my RRMS diagnosis and faced a number of new health issues. I found it hard to continue my active life.

Trying to run with the MS hug

Running and jogging had always been my go-to stress relievers and a way to stay fit, but my sessions ended abruptly once the MS hugs began. Being 'hugged' while trying to keep up the pace and breathing made me exhausted and frustrated. The sensation was like an invisible force squeezing my chest, making each breath a struggle. It took me such a long time to build decent running stamina, and yet only a few failed attempts with MS hugs left me discouraged. The realization that I might never be able to enjoy running again led me to completely abandon this type of exercise, but I was determined not to give up on physical activity altogether.

I turned to strength training

So I decided to move on to strength training, hoping that focusing on building muscle would be less taxing on my cardiovascular system. This worked for a while for me because, in the first few years, besides the MS hugs that were triggered when I pushed myself too hard, I mainly experienced problems with my vision. I adapted my routines, using lighter weights and more controlled movements, and felt a sense of accomplishment as I saw gradual improvements in my strength. However, just as with running, there came a time when I had to face another setback. The numbness in my arms became more frequent and severe, causing me to randomly start dropping things. This unpredictability made it unsafe to continue lifting weights, and the frustration of having to give up yet another form of exercise was crushing.
Not ready to give up working out and being active, I thought to myself, what could I try next?

Bodyweight workouts supported me

I decided to go with bodyweight workouts like yoga and pilates, believing they would be gentler on my body and provide a way to stay flexible and strong. These exercises worked well for a while, making me feel calm, flexible, and curious as I explored new movements and capabilities of my body. The slow, deliberate movements and the emphasis on breathing in yoga and pilates helped me reconnect with my body in a way that felt therapeutic. But eventually, even these gentle exercises became difficult. When spasticity and dizziness with certain motions came along, I was forced to stop them as well. The sense of loss was profound, as I had come to rely on these practices not just for physical fitness, but also for mental and emotional balance. My routine daily walks were the only thing that kept me sane for a while, but even then, I had days when my legs would not allow me to walk. All of the accumulated symptoms and progression of the MS made my doctor and me realize that the therapy I was using was not ideal for me, and that I should move on to another route before permanent damage was done.

I found a new passion that helped me find myself again

The new medicine I was put on brought hope back to me, making me feel energized and brave enough to try being active once again. To gather some of my strength back, I decided to try riding a spinning bicycle. Within half a year of 20-30 minute workouts per day, I got back into decent shape and, more importantly, regained my motivation and confidence. The sense of accomplishment I felt from gradually rebuilding my strength was empowering. It reminded me of my resilience and determination to not let MS dictate my life. Inspired by this newfound strength and the progress I made, I decided to take on a new challenge. I dared to enroll in a kickboxing class, driven by the desire to push my boundaries and explore my capabilities further. Kickboxing appealed to me because it combined physical strength, coordination, and mental focus. Now, three months later, I cannot believe how far I have come. I still have days where my body does not cooperate with me, but I take those as reminders to be kinder to myself and to persevere. Each setback is an opportunity to regroup and approach my goals with renewed determination.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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