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Exercise benefits MS Warriors

Two Small Studies Find Benefits of Exercise for People with MS with Moderate to Severe Problems with Movement

November 9, 2016
  • Two small studies report on the benefits of exercise for people with MS who have moderate to severe mobility impairments. This research shows the importance of physical activity in enabling people with all forms of MS to live their best lives.
  • The National MS Society provides resources on exercise for people living with all forms of MS, as well as for healthcare providers. Further information on increasing physical activity in adults with disabilities is available from the Centers for Disease Control.
Background: Growing evidence suggests that exercise is good for a person’s overall health and for reducing other health conditions (co-morbidities).  Research in MS has also suggested that exercise training is effective for improving aerobic capacity and muscle strength, mobility, quality of life, and may benefit cognition, fatigue and depression. However, research is limited on exercise options for people with MS who have moderate or severe mobility impairments. Two recent, small studies begin to address this gap.
Exercise for severe mobility impairments: Investigators randomly assigned 12 people with progressive MS to receive total-body recumbent stepper training (similar to climbing stairs) or body weight–supported treadmill training. Both are used for people with severe mobility impairments, but the authors wanted to see if stepper training showed similar benefit to treadmill training, because it is significantly less costly to use and maintain the equipment. Participants completed three weekly 30-minute sessions for 12 weeks. Both training programs were safe, and although participants enjoyed both, stepper training was reviewed more favorably. There were no changes in physical function, but both reduced fatigue and improved quality of life.

The team (Lara A. Pilutti, PhD, now at the University of Ottawa, and former colleagues at the University of Illi­nois at Urbana-Champaign) has published results in the International Journal of MS Care (2016;18:221–229).

A cycling option for non-ambulatory people: Functional electrical stimulation (FES) offers people with significant weakness and mobility problems a cycling option, using low-level electrical impulses to stimulate the activation of leg muscles. Researchers evaluated whether this type of cycling improved symptoms and quality of life in 16 people with moderate to severe MS who were unable to walk. Participants cycled for 30 minutes, two to three times a week for one month. Significant improvements were noted in cycling performance, and physical and psychosocial aspects of fatigue, as well as reductions in reported pain. There were no significant changes in spasticity, cognitive aspects of fatigue, or muscle strength. Further research in larger numbers of people would help to clarify how benefits might be optimized.
The team (Deborah Backus, PhD, PT, and colleagues at the Shepherd Center, Atlanta, GA) report their results in the International Journal of MS Care (Published online, August 9, 2016).
Read More: The National MS Society provides resources on exercise for people living with all forms of MS, as well as for healthcare providers. Further information on increasing physical activity in adults with disabilities is available from the Centers for Disease Control.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.
This new isn't ground breaking, but I thought I would share for those of you who do not check in with NMSS news often. Since Common Sense is my spiritual, physical and mental guru in all things MS, I already knew that exercise was beneficial in keeping the MonSter at bay.
I always feel better after exerting myself through walking (In my living room where I am safe from outside environmental obstacles.), a little yoga, or gently aerobics. But I will tell you that just getting up and moving is a good thing as well. do yourself a favor, though: Push yourself to go forward just a little every day. A former administrator once told his teachers: "Practice makes perfect only when you practice perfection." 
Don't keep doing the same ol' same ol'. Try something new every now and then. This not only keeps things interesting, but different parts of your  body will appreciate the attention.
Because I plan to exercise my mandible muscles vigorously next week, I plan to double up on my own exercising this weekend. Let's hope I can keep this commitment to myself.
Have a great weekend and KEEP MOVING,

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