So what’s the best way for people to participate? And how much should people with MS really move?
A panel of multiple sclerosis experts recently met to untangle those questions. After a review of the scientific literature and a close look at barriers to participation, they released their recommendations in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal. The panel of physical therapists, nurses, exercise scientists, doctors and others had a clear message: People with MS can and should move no matter where they are in the course of the disease.
Health-care providers should encourage MS patients to get 150 minutes or more of exercise or lifestyle physical activity per week, the panel recommends. But those activities can and should be tailored to each patient, they say.
Their tiered recommendations are based on the physical condition and abilities of each patient, and include activities such as running and assisted range-of-motion activities. While those with mild impairment may be able to run or lift weights, those who cannot get out of bed can still benefit from things like muscle stimulation and breathing exercises.
Physical and social barriers to exercise exist for the approximately 1 million Americans with multiple sclerosis. Fluctuating symptoms, stress, a lack of support and low confidence can discourage would-be exercisers with MS, and some clinicians are unaware of how to help patients get moving.
But, the panel writes, “people with MS who engage in exercise and lifestyle physical activity experience benefits from immune cell through quality-of-life outcomes,” and it’s safe for people with MS to move their bodies.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which convened the panel, offers videos on stretching, aerobic and breathing exercises for people of all levels of ability. To learn more, visit bit.ly/MSexercisetips.