Evexia Therapies

Multiple Sclerosis and the Role of Exercise in Managing Symptoms

This article provides information on how exercise can improve the quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple Sclerosis (commonly known as “MS”) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It’s characterised by the formation of areas of demyelination (plaques) throughout the brain and spinal cord. This damage to the central nervous system results in slow or interrupted transmission of nerve impulses and causes a wide range of symptoms.

Symptoms of MS include physical and cognitive disability, extreme fatigue, temperature sensitivity, and depression. There is currently no known cause or cure for MS.

MS affects over 25,600 people in Australia. Most of these people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-40, but it can affect younger and older people too. MS is roughly three times more common in women than in men.

The Benefits of Exercise for People with MS

Today, exercise is considered safe for people with MS.

Many of the symptoms associated with MS are reduced through physical activity and exercise. Research has indicated that persons with MS who engage in exercise have:

  • Reduce relapses
  • Increase mobility
  • Increase strength
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Reduce depression and anxiety
  • Improve pain management
  • Improve balance
  • Improve quality of life

Any exacerbation of symptoms associated with exercise are normally fully reversed 30 minutes after the end of the exercise session. Including exercise in your life as soon as possible after diagnosis is expected to prevent early progression of the disease.

Getting Started with Exercise

If you’re new to exercise, it’s important to start slowly. We recommend working up to the recommended volume of exercise over two to three months and break exercise into shorter bouts of 10 to 15 minutes at a time if necessary. Remember that all exercises can be modified by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist to suit your ability.

The most important thing is to choose exercise that you enjoy, and remember, something is always better than nothing!

How an Occupational Therapist Can Help

An occupational therapist (OT) is a healthcare professional who can help people with MS improve their ability to perform everyday activities. OTs can work with you to develop strategies for managing fatigue, improving balance and coordination as well as modifying your home environment to make it safer and easier to get around.

Here are some of the ways an OT can help people with MS:

  • Develop strategies for managing fatigue
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Modify your home environment to make it safer and easier to get around
  • Recommend assistive devices to help with daily activities
  • Provide education on MS and how to manage the condition

If you are living with MS, exercise and occupational therapy can be valuable tools in helping you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Click here to contact us and find out how our team can help!

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program.

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