#1: Make Stretching a Priority
If you do nothing else, make sure to incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Taking at least 15 minutes a day to stretch can reduce spasticity and prevent muscle shrinkage and shortening. According to the National MS Society, yoga is a wonderful option for those battling MS — every pose can be modified and practiced however you are most comfortable. Stretching and moving your joints and muscles, alone or within your yoga practice, will result in better coordination, increased circulation and higher energy levels.
#2: Fit in Cardio
Research continues to show many benefits of cardio workouts for MS patients. Your chronic symptoms, such as your cognitive function and overall mood, will improve by regularly increasing your heart rate. Cardio exercise prevents damage to the brain and improves energy levels as well as contributes to heart health. Try a seated cardio workout if you have mobility issues and are in a wheelchair, or try walking outside on nice days as you can.
#3: Find the Right Exercise for You
MS presents differently in different people, so some types of exercise that are great for some folks might not be best for you. The good news is there are a number of options for you to try. Whether it’s swimming, walking, biking, yoga, pilates or even adaptive skiing, there’s really no end to the possibilities. MS Workouts on Youtube offers 30+ online exercise videos designed specifically for those battling MS symptoms if you are interested in testing out different exercises in the comfort of your own home before checking out a local gym or workout studio.
#4: Prep Well and Use the Right Gear
There are a lot of good resources out there to help you stay active with MS. Use a pedometer to track your steps, or a fitness tracker like a Fitbit or Apple Watch for even more detail. Get fitted for a great pair of shoes with an emphasis on balance and support — and make sure you get a pair designed for the activity you’re doing (e.g., runners will want a running shoe). Invest in moisture-wicking clothes, and check out cooling vests to keep your core temperature down.
#5: Listen to Your Body and Talk to Your Health Care Team
Health insurance typically covers some of the costs of a physical therapist, who can help you learn to move your body to meet your goals. Talk to your health care team about your symptoms, and keep track of what causes flare-ups. Living with MS (and really, life in general!) is all about adaptation. With the right tools and the right attitude, you can stay active with MS and reap the benefits.