Having multiple sclerosis can make normal, everyday tasks difficult. From tying your shoes, to writing a letter, you may even struggle with exercise depending on the severity of your symptoms, which differ from person to person. It's important to keep fit, especially when you have MS. Necessary medications and inactivity can lead to osteoporosis and coronary heart disease. Combating this with regular exercise is the key. Fit in low-intensity exercise programs when you're less likely to become fatigued. Then choose exercise equipment that's easy on the joints. Always get your MS specialist's approval to exercise.
Buy a stability ball. Use your height to find the right size. Once it's inflated and you're sitting on it, your knees should form a 90-degree angle. If your thighs aren't flat and your feet are not flat on the floor, you have the wrong size. Ask your physical therapist for help. With the stability ball, you can work on balance, stability and posture. Tone your core with crunches or work your lower body with squats.
Cruise the streets in a recumbent a bicycle instead of an upright two-wheeler. Because you're in a comfortable, reclining pose, you'll have better balance on the road. Since these bikes can be costly, look for a shop that offers rent-to-own or trade-in programs. You may even find an affordable one through an online auction site. Have it check out by a bike pro first to eliminate safety concerns. Since you use your upper body to steer, using a recumbent bike will still provide a good workout.
Use a handcycle if you have limited mobility. Ideal for building up your arms, a handcycle can help improve upper body strength. Be careful, though. Whether you're using a recumbent bicycle or handcycle, always wear a helmet. When cycling outside, wear bright clothing and place reflectors on your cycle. Recumbent cycles should have a reflective flag on them so it is visible by traffic.
Buy an exercise band. Functional and inexpensive, you can do a variety of low-impact stretching and toning exercises with these latex wonders. Best of all, you can do them if you have limited mobility. Because they improve coordination and muscle balance, which are important when you have MS, exercise bands can cause early fatigue. Work with your physical therapist to find the right tension, combination of exercises and number of sets to do.
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Exercise
- Spine Health: About Exercise Balls
- Spine Health: Exercise Ball Uses
- Drugs.com: Nine Exercises for Advancing MS
- American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using Rubber Band Resistance Exercise
- Multiple Sclerosis: Diagnosis, Medical Management, and Rehabilitation; Dr. Jack Burks, MD, Dr. Kenneth Johnson, MD
- While used equipment can save you money now, having an accident will cost you later. Have all used equipment inspected before using it.
- Make sure you're safe at all times. Have a physical therapist or your doctor approve any new exercise or equipment you plan to use before you use it. If you become fatigued or weak, or feel pain, stop using the equipment and check with your doctor or physical therapist.
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.