Blog » Is Exercise Safe for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

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Emma Sansalone (Accredited Exercise Physiologist)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects over 23,000 people within Australia and more than two million diagnosed worldwide. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-40, however it can affect younger and older people too. Roughly three times as many women have MS as men. (source: MS Australia). Common signs and symptoms include sensory loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, vertigo, balance problems, vision disturbances, speech problems, spasticity and memory impairment.

There is currently no known cure, however there are many different treatment options available to help manage the symptoms of MS. Exercise and physical activity can help manage some of the symptoms associated with MS, however it is important that Exercise Programs are prescribed by an appropriate Allied Health Practitioner such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist.

An individualised exercise program can assist in improving cardio-respiratory function, reducing levels of fatigue, increasing muscle strength, improving balance,increasing joint range of movement, and increasing the ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). For the best outcomes patients should commence an exercise program as early in the disease process as possible.

Research has shown that exercise when performed correctly, can limit the long term degree of disability. Exercise intensity and duration should remain low when commencing a program for the first time, as well as during a flare up of MS symptoms. Exercise intensity and duration can then gradually be increased. Cardiovascular training, strength training and flexibility training should all be included in an individualised program, based on the needs and goals of the patient.

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