Walking distance - does practice improve it?

Hi Folks,

Since New Year, in spite of the horrible weather, I’ve been trying to get out for a walk at least a few minutes a day.

To my concern, my range seems to have deteriorated considerably in the last year, even in the absence of obvious relapses. In September of 2010, I am sure that I could walk six miles - although I’m not saying it was without discomfort.

Now, the discomfort seems to be setting in after just half a mile, particularly in my left leg, which begins to feel very weak and tired, even though everything still moves, and I am not using a stick or other aid.

The question is, if I set myself a challenging walking range, and stick to it, will I eventually regain more strength and stamina, and begin to find it easier, or is this counter-productive, and I should just admit I can’t do it?


hi tina

hope things have settled down a bit for you work wise.

with regards to exercise there was a post on here a few days ago and the answer was yes it did improve peoples ability after a while of gradual exercise.

i have tried to find it but no luck yet.

i have found that working was too much but after a couple of weeks resting, i felt considerably weaker and i found it really difficult not to let the fatigue and muscle weakness win but since my mum has been ill ive had to do more and walk further and am finding small improvements in muscle pain and stiffness. (still no diagnosis though )

although my arms are not getting enough excercise because i cant carry shopping without being a lot of discomfort and shakiness afterwards like its just too much for the muscles. i now have one of those square shopping trolleys that you push in front of you like a pushchair. a xmas present thats very useful, they all still have the old checked grandma design though, although im past worrying what people think of it.

best wishes

mandy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I am interested in this too Tina; as I have been having something of a few weeks of ‘weakness’ in my legs and hands and chronic constipation; which I put down to me not having a walk around the block or in my local park; due to fatigue/Christmas and the weather.

I have been told by others with MS that exercise doesn’t seem to help as fatigue kicks in but one of my good friends who can no longer walk told me that she wishes she had walked more early on for once lost it’s hard to regain. Presumable bringing up her children meant little time for exercise.

Personally I am going to keep at it, when I can.




im sorry i cant find it, ive searched exercise buti dont think the forum account s for spelling mistakes, so if someone spelt it badly (like i just did) you wouldnt get to see it unless you spelt it badly too. (if that makes sense)

good luck

mandy xx

Hi Tina, that is a really good question, so gonna have to kick my brain into gear, lol, and it is something I thought about a lot and indeed tried to do many years go, since you replied to my other post about being diagnosed 16 years ago you will know the time frame I am talking about, I had optic neuritis in 1989 and then various worsening and attacks on my legs between 1989 and diagnosis end of 1995’, so 6 years. In that 6 years I didn’t know I had ms, ignorance is bliss, and I pushed on through it, I competed at fencing for the university and I ice skated and in these years I certainly learned new skating moves but as we moved up to diagnosis I don’t think I was as good as I would have been if I had been “normal” but I carried on anyway. After diagnosis I didn’t pursue any of these two activities but not so much due to ms, more because I had left university so didn’t follow fencing and I had become a little bit too old to be perfecting skating moves. So after diagnosis I tried to do as much as I could, and I also, for want of a better word, practiced walking, I tried to walk as nicely as I could and also as far as I could. Nowadays I can’t walk without holding on to something and I am not good at it, however, certainly about the house and office I manage to walk as best as I can and I get things done in this way and I think it is important to maintain this for as long as possible. Tina, while you can still walk, I personally don’t think there is anything at all wrong with setting yourself a challenging walking target, I don’t think you will be worse of for it long term, I have certainly pushed myself and I don’t believe I am worse of for it than if I hadn’t. Will it help long term? Well I’m less sure about that but I don’t believe it will make things worse. As far as pushing yourself, I sometimes find that if I just sit down and do nothing then when I do have to get up my legs feel weak and tired whereas if I had got up and maybe done a household job they don’t feel so bad, yes I know cleaning the bathroom isn’t exactly fun but you know just getting up and moving a bit doing the task seems to leave me feeling better for it, there is also the sense of achievement, so, I would say, yes go for it, the only caution I think is that if you have a and day don’t let it demoralize you, everyone has a bad day sometimes, whether they have ms or not , just put it behind you and move on. By the way, well done on even going out in this weather, don’t know what it is like with you but here it is very very windy and a bit rainy. Cheryl:)

Hi Tina This time last year before I knew or suspected I had MS I decided to start a programme of walking to hopefully improve the strength in my legs and thus increase my ability for sustained walking. (my GP had told me the weakness in my legs was probably due to stress,huh!) Anyway, our house backs onto the woods and I started to go for regular walks, hoping to build up the time and length of these walks. It was very unsuccessful. I have PPMS and my legs are my worst thing and if anything, all that walking had the opposite effect. So, I had to give up I’m afraid. Anyway, thought I’d share, Teresa xx

Hi Tina, well as admirable as trying your best to keep some form of exercise going is , Im afraid I dont think you will improve with time.

Ms being a miserable so and so, loves to make us tired, fatigued, no matter how hard we try to ignore it.

A physio told me that our stamina cannot be regained.it`s the nature of the beast.

but don`t let my words stop you from trying. Only you can decide that for yourself.

I bought myself an electric treadmill, years ago, before i knew I had a serious problem. But no matter what speed, or how often I used it, i didn`t get stronger, just more and more fatigued. I sold the treadmill.

Sorry this is quite pessimistic, but perhaps someone else will be more positive for you. I hope so.

luv Pollx

In my case no, but I firmly believe that continuing to try helps to keep what you have for longer. It might be worth getting a physio to identify areas of weakness and work hard on building up those muscle groups.

Hi Tina

I would say there is no harm in trying, but dont be too hard on yourself if you cant always complete what you intended.

I tried really hard in the beginning (years ago now) but I could not sustain it due to the weakness in my legs, but I have ppms, so it could well be different for you.

It might be worth asking the physio if there are any exercises you can do, although I appreciate this can be tedious, but if it helps would be worth it.

Take care, hope the problems around work have been resolved.


I feel for you, Tina, and I’m in the same boat, although my range this time last year was very much shorter than yours.

In my own case I suspect I’m stuffed, because I’m losing power in ankle, knee and hip in my bad leg, so there is no possibility of my body finding a workaround - that leg is just clean out of bits that work properly! So exercise would be like flogging a dead horse.

If the faults in your bad leg are more specific and less general, might it be worth talking to a physio to see whether there’s work you can do to deply the bits that do work more effectively to make the most of the capacities you do have in that leg?



I am sure that doing as much as you can and keeping your muscles as strong as possible for as long as possible is really important.

I have worked hard since this time last year and try to have a walk every day. I have improved from only being able to walk from home to the first lampost and back to managing to go around the local green, not much I know (I used to walk up and down mountains for fun) but even that small increase in distance feels great to me. Even though I am tired straight after a walk after a sit down and a cuppa I feel much better - and my feet actually get warm for a while too!

Happy New Year


hi chris

do you know i only noticed yesterday that where both my hands and feet are always freezing they do get warm when walking, although my legs were cold.

never realised before.

happy new year

best wishes


Thanks everyone - a very interesting series of replies!

I’m sorry I’m being lazy and not replying to each of them individually (tired from all the walking - LoL!)

The general consensus seems to be that it won’t be doing me any harm, and might help, albeit not to get my hopes up. So it seems worth persevering.

I already have some physio-prescribed exercises, although these were devised in the context of my condition some months ago, and might not reflect subsequent deterioration.

I’m trying harder to do them this year (New Year’s resolution), and one of them was walking. Not just doing it, but concentrating on putting my heel down first, to get the calf stretch, as I was tending to put toes down first, which is wrong.

Although nothing obvious has changed since last year, things just feel tireder more quickly. It seems to be that stamina is reduced, rather than any tangible difficulties with balance, range of movement etc. I can walk quite fast, but quickly feel as if I’ve been running, rather than walking.

I can’t rule out that I’m just having a rather bad week, as the first week back to a worrying time at work after almost three weeks of being idle may not necessarily be the best time to introduce new exercise as well!

But I know that if I wait for the “best time”, there never will be a best time - I’ll always be moaning I’m too tired, or too busy, or too stressed, or whatever. So nothing else for it but to put on my goosedown filled coat (like an eiderdown, with sleeves), and just get on with it.

Yes, it has been horrid out there, so I’ve been setting a cracking pace - mainly to make sure I’m home again, before I get soaked. This race to beat the next downpour is probably contributing to why it’s a challenging walk.

On the positive side, I have not yet had to give up and turn back, so I can still do it. I’m just aware of how soon I’m feeling the strain, compared to how far I used to get, before beginning to struggle.

Thanks again for all the replies - I will try to keep going with it.



Hi Tina,

Like you, I can’t decide whether to push my pins into doing more, or treat them like spoiled children, and let them off the hook. in my own case I have found out that all I can do is try that bit more than my limbs are happy with, but at the same time let it depend on how I am feeling that day. I am sorry that I can’t be more daring or more specific!



Thanks Moira, that’s fine - you may not have a solution, but I think you explain the dilemma very well.

I laughed at the idea of my legs being like “spoiled children”: “Awwh, poor diddums - don’t you want to go any further, then?”

I don’t think I’m going to let them get away with that!

But I’m not talking about taking things to extremes, either. I think “just a little bit more than they are happy with” is exactly it. It’s only a few minutes during the lunch hour; I haven’t got time to make an afternoon of it! So I don’t think I’m going to be risking serious physical or emotional trauma.



I’ve been going to the gym recently and my fitness has definitely improved (measured by heart rate, speed and distance on the exercise bike), but I still can’t walk for very long - so I can now do 20 minutes at a decent speed on the exercise bike, but 5 minutes really slow on the treadmill wipes me out. I do feel better since starting the gym and my fatigue has improved, but I am also in remission so it is really hard to judge what’s doing what.

There is lots of evidence that exercise helps MSers with fatigue, but my neurophysio told me to give it a miss on the days when my fatigue was bad. I guess the trick is to do the exercise during the better times, so that the worse times improve.

I had a conversation with some MSer friends recently about how weird it is that we can do some physical things (like cycle, for me) but others are really difficult (like walk). My theory is that there is one of two things going on: different muscle groups are involved or that the things we can’t do any more are the “motor programmes” in the brain that have been damaged. (The parietal lobes store motor programmes for everything, like a little software programme for the different muscles involved in the action.) If it is either of those things, then it’s worth persevering. Both muscles and the brain’s motor programmes can be strengthened, assuming the connections aren’t beyond repair…

Of course, I could be talking ******** :-), but I’m still hoping to start walking better…

Karen x

Hi Tina,

Its a funny one for me anyway I started going to the gym I couldn’t even manage to walk 1/2 a mile if I tried I’d have to give up I just couldn’t walk very far anymore around a few shops is my limit and would have to sit down and rest.

But when at the gym I can exercise to weights and most thing I can even manage 10km on the exercise bike but if I went near a treadmill or cross trainer I few minutes and I can barely walk.

I found that strange I asked my neuro why that was he told me when your walking your using so many muscle movements and your poor MS brain can’t cope with all those signals at once and gets tired in no time and starts to shut down but when using an exercise bike if you keep at a nice easy level its not a problem and it really helps me beat fatigue.

I do find with me exercising it really helped my balance and standing also my stamina and feel much better and get a buzz from it and feel I’ve more energy then ever I can’t even remember the last time I felt fatigue.

It would be nice just to go a little walk without having to think what I’m doing and not trip up if I dont.

Mark x

Hello, like has been said by Rizzo above, I find cycling a doddle but walking tiring and challenging and running impossible. I do walk daily though, as we have a dog and walking him is my responsibility (not weekends). I wouldn’t like to let him down so I go out in all weathers, whether I want to or not, using my stick for longer walks. I do feel that if I give up, it will be the end … my legs will lose it altogether. So I struggle on and rest afterwards.

It’s no longer a pleasure though. I used to love walking.