MS and exercise

Hi, I’m just recovering from a relapse, and I’m wondering what sort of exercise I could/should be doing. I have started a little bit of swimming. But I have been told not to overdo it -because I’m still dealing with fatigue and some weakness in my legs. I’m also a bit concerned about the effect of the body getting too warm on my symptoms.

Any advice gratefully received



hi anna

continue with your swimming but starting off gently.

look for a pilates class or yoga because these are great for strengthening the core.

as far as getting too warm goes, monitor it with your fatigue levels and stop as soon as either gets high.

good luck

carole x

Hi Anna,

The good news is there are no hard rules. You can do absolutely anything you feel like doing - just listen to your body, and if it’s telling you to stop, stop.

Any increased symptoms from heat will usually be temporary, and reduce as soon as body temperature returns to normal. You’re not actually causing new damage - it’s just that heat tends to slow nerve transmission, so if yours already wasn’t working perfectly, the effects tend to be more noticeable when you get hot.

There can be a bit of trial and error involved, I’m afraid, because you won’t really know what’s OK until you try. Inevitably, this means occasionally getting it wrong and paying the price - but you won’t have harmed yourself - you’ll just feel a bit groggy and realise you’ve misjudged it. Eventually you’ll get to know yourself well enough that mistakes are rare - or they’re ones you really didn’t mind making, because you desperately wanted to do something, and accepted there’d be a price.



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Just to add a bit of encouragement. It’s really important that people with MS exercise - we should all be aiming for 20 minutes 5 times a week, of something that raises your heart rate a bit. I have been trying to do this on a cross trainer for something like a year. I’ve had real ups and downs, with relapses and other hiccups. But over the last four months, my resting pulse has come down from 96 beats per minute to 80. 80 isn’t brilliant but it’s a lot better than where I was - I hope to continue to see improvement.

I agree that exercise is vital. I have been taking part in a programme run by Sports Science students at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. It is run in conjunction with the MS society. It is meant to show you what you are capable of and also monitor your progress. I have found it amazing. To my surprise I can now do 5 minutes on the cross trainer and considering that at the beginning I was struggling to get on the machine I am pretty pleased with that. Admittedly I am wheezing like an old boiler when I come off but it gives me a buzz. Has also made walking with my two walking sticks a bit easier. Still a struggle but at least a bit easier. Not sure if I will have the commitment to carry on at the end of the programme but I will do my best. It is one thing being motivated by three students but another doing it yourself. Give it my best shot though.


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My guru on exercise believe it or not is Mr Motivator. See him on MS Trust as others have said everything’s OK; just do not overdo it.


I have started again going to the gym and even taking improver swimming lessons and I do feel the benefit of it - there’s a great sign in our gym “remember, no matter how slow you are going, you are still lapping everyone on the couch” Our gym in the leisure centre has people from all walks of life and ages and abilities so don’t let the usual mind set of gyms put you off…go at your own pace and enjoy it…

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Just to add to what’s been said, my neuro was telling me on Tuesday that there’s evidence that exercise, apart from contributing to cardiac and aerobic health, actually has some sort of regulatory effect on the immune system.

We didn’t get into great detail, so I can’t cite a paper for you or anything, but the benefits of exercise may extend beyond the obvious ones that everybody knows.


The cross-trainer or Eliptical trainer is great for us. lt holds you in a good upright position - and works arms and legs at the same time. Now l cannot walk unaided - but on one of these machines l actually look as if l am ‘able’ rather then the other!

Cant use a rowing machine as l cannot get up and down from that position. Also, another good machine is a HealthRider - really works out the whole body. And of course a Power Plate machine - possibly my favourite as you can adapt your yoga/pilates exercises onto it. Sadly, l do not use mine anymore as l have had a new hip and knee - and l do not think all that vibration is any good to artificial joints. Hoping that a physio might tell me l can use it .

Without the machines - l do lots of squats - and l sit on a bench and make myself stand up and sit down - holding onto core muscles- but not using hands for support. lt takes me several attempts to get up the first time - then l just keep doing them and the brain seems to remember how. l do try to do 100 a day - but l do it in 7 or so separate sessions not all at once. This strengthens the core/glutes/hips/knees and all the muscles in your legs. lf l watch tele at the same time l find l actually forget what l am doing.

Having just read this I thought I’d check my pulse…couldnt find it in my wrist so went for the Jugular, 66 resting which when I google it makes me good for my age (55).

I have always been quite fit, not in a gym type way but I have always worked in the catering industry which is a workout on its own. There was a time in my mid 30s to mid 40s I worked 80 hours a week.

I have never been a fan of exercise as a way of keeping fit I never did get the buzz people say they get from a workout. Now I cant do much of anything even general housework is too much for me. I really do try, I recently started an exercise class ran by my Neuro Physio Dept I go once a week and am waiting on a place becoming free so I can attend twice. It’s such a chore though, I can’t seem to motivate myself when I know an hours class takes me the rest of the afternoon and evening to recover. All we do is a circut of arm and leg exercises.

Sorry not a very upbeat post

On a more positive note I do try to get out every day even if it’s just dragging myself round the supermarket clinging onto a trolly, any exercise is good, isn’t it?

Jan x

Jan, Dragging yourself round the supermarket clinging to a trolly - is a great way to exercise. You pick up your shopping put it in the trolly - then take it out at the till. Put it in your car - then take it out when you are home. lts a good workout by anyones standards.

l have 3 x 15kg bags of dog food that need picking up and putting away safely. This will be my workout today. Perhaps l will leave it to my daughter. She just throws one over her shoulder and picks up a second one and carries them round to the side of the house. lts lifting them high enough to put into the feed bin which is a metre high that l struggle.

those stretchy bands that may speaks of are really good.

you can do the exercise the same muscles as you do on the brutal machines in the gym.

you just need someone to show you how to use them - a physio? a trainer at the gym?

having said that i suffer from a chronic condition called bone idle laziness!

but i have all the gizmos so one of these days maybe i’ll use them.

carole x

Thanks for all your comments, it’s really good to hear other people’s experiences. I guess my challenge is that I’m a single mum of a 5-year-old, so getting out to classes etc is difficult - as is, getting enough energy/motivation to shift my bum from the sofa of an evening. I used to do a lot of yoga so have just dusted off the old mat - and now my daughter is doing it! result! Next step - me!

By the way, has anyone any experience of Amantadine to fight fatigue? mightn’t have spelt it right, but my nurse is prescribing it for me.



I try to go swimming a couple of times a week - and usually walk from work to the pool and back (about 10 mins). Don’t always make it though. I planned to go today, but felt so rubbish this morning that I finished work lunch time, came home and had a long relaxing bath instead!!! No point in beating ourselves up if we don’t manage what we’d LIKE to do re exercise - there’s another day tomorrow.

H x

l have bought a dvd of Thai Chi - Try Thai Chi by Dr Paul Lam. Always thought l would like to give it a go. When you see some very elderly chinese doing all those very graceful movements - its makes you think about trying it.

l have had the dvd 2 weeks now - and still have not taken the cellophane off it. That will be the first exercise!!!

Anyone else ever tried it?

Hi, I do a tai-chi class once a week and do it at home every day, my balance is so much better and posture, it briillant for when I have bad symptoms it really calms the nervous system, I would give it a try, but think it better to have a few lessons to help you at first.

good luck


I have tried a yoga class today, first time since the neurologist said my symptoms are likely to be MS.

I knew i would find it difficult as i have not done any specific exercise in years

I was very disheartened when i realised how unfit, unbalanced and un- flexible i am.

I used to be very flexible taking part in martial arts and today i struggled to do all the positions, constant discomfort throughout the session.

I’m now apprehensive about going back or to try a new type of exercise.

Stick with it Toothfairy, at least for a few more sessions before you decide if it’s right for you. I wasn’t sure about yoga at first and even my instructor says she wasn’t sure for the first few sessions and now it’s her whole life! Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the instructor if you’re not sure you’re getting the posture right, they should be advising you the whole time. If they’re not helping you, then maybe you haven’t found the right class yet. I find yoga helps my achy legs and my balance. It’s taken time but I can stand on one leg for a few seconds . It also wins me brownie points at my neuro appointments!

Tracey x

Thanks Tracey.

The class I went to is organised through work.

I haven’t told anyone at work about my problems as I haven’t had a confirmed diagnosis and I’m still fairly new to the company , less than a year and I don’t want to rock the boat.