Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially debilitating disease in which your body's immune system eats away at the protective sheath that covers your nerves. This interferes with the communication between your brain and the rest of your body. Ultimately, this may result in deterioration of the nerves themselves, a process that's not reversible.
Symptoms vary widely, depending on the amount of damage and which particular nerves are affected. People with severe cases of multiple sclerosis may lose the ability to walk or speak. Multiple sclerosis can be difficult to diagnose early in the course of the disease, because symptoms often come and go — sometimes disappearing for months.
Although multiple sclerosis can occur at any age, it most often begins in people between the ages of 20 and 40. Women are more likely to develop multiple sclerosis than are men.
Exercise & Multiple Sclerosis
Exercise can help ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, but it's important to take certain precautions if you want your exercise program to be successful. The most important thing to remember is to not overdo it.
You may have heard the mottos "stretch till it hurts" or "feel the burn," but those approaches are counterproductive for people with MS. If you overdo it you can end up straining an already compromised muscular system, increasing pain and causing your body and mind to become overstressed, overworked, and overtired.
Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. He or she may make recommendations about:
· The types of exercise best suited to you and those which you should avoid
· The intensity of the workout (how hard you should be working)
· The duration of your workout and any physical limitations
· Referrals to other professionals who can help create a personal exercise program that meets your needs. The type of exercise that works best for you depends on your symptoms, fitness level, and overall health.
Tips for Safe Exercise
· Always warm up before beginning your exercise routine and cool down at the end.
· If you plan to workout for 30 minutes, start with 10-minute workout sessions and work your way up.
· Workout in a safe environment; avoid slippery floors, poor lighting, throw rugs, and other potential tripping hazards.
· If you have difficulty balancing, exercise within reach of a grab bar or rail.
· If at any time you feel sick or you begin to hurt, STOP.
· Select an activity that you enjoy and HAVE FUN! Water aerobics, swimming, tai chi, and yoga are examples of exercises that often work well for people with MS.
What Should I Do if I Get Overheated?
Some people with MS are sensitive to heat, which means they notice that their symptoms either reappear or become worse when their body heat rises. This will happen when you exercise. Here are some tips to avoid overheating.
· *Don't exercise during the hot time of the day (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Try to exercise in the morning or evening if you are exercising outside.
· *Drink plenty of cool fluids.
· * Become aware of your body. If you notice any symptoms that you didn't have before you began exercising, then slow down or stop exercising until you cool down.
· * Swimming and water aerobics are good exercise options to keep you cool while exercising. Also, make sure that there are non-slip floors in the locker room and around the pool.
Information provided by WebMD-