Stay Active While Living With MS

6 ways to help stay active

Find ways to help stay active and keep moving throughout your MS journey

Exercise may help you improve your energy and balance. This may help you with everyday activities. Although more research is needed in this area, exercise may help as you live your life with multiple sclerosis."

Staying Active With MS

As someone who lives with MS, I’ve experienced just how difficult it can be to keep a consistent exercise program. What keeps me motivated is knowing how important physical activity and movement can be to my MS. You don’t have to be an athlete or love exercise to keep yourself moving. There are plenty of things you can do on a daily basis that may benefit you. Here are some ideas to consider that may help you maintain an active lifestyle:

  1. Stretch daily—Flexibility exercises and muscle stretching may help maintain flexibility and range of motion. These exercises may also help keep joints healthy, prevent injury, and reduce stress. I find it helpful to dedicate at least 10 to 15 minutes to stretching every day. Stretches can be modified to what works and feels best for you. Consult a physical therapist or work with your doctor to find some stretches that may benefit you. Find exercise routines here
  2. Stay cool—Heat can often bother someone with MS. I try to exercise during the cooler hours of the day (typically in the morning). In the summer or in warm climates, you may want to exercise in places with air-conditioning. Ask your doctor about things like cooling vests or cold packs that may be helpful for you when dealing with the heat. Don’t forget to drink plenty of cold water during and after exercising
  3. Keep moving—I find that staying active with MS is not only helpful for me physically but also mentally. Daily walks, arm workouts, and water-based fitness keep my body moving and help me keep a positive outlook. While walking and swimming are usually the easiest and most accessible, don’t rule out activities like biking or even horseback riding. I personally enjoy skiing and have found adaptive programs that allow me to ski in a safer way. Work with your doctor to figure out what activities work for you. Keep in mind that even the smallest movements can make a big difference
  4. Clean up—I try to never miss an opportunity to get two things done at once. Cleaning your home, whether vacuuming, doing dishes, dusting, or just tidying up, keeps you moving at the same time. Put on some music, think about how this activity is benefiting you, and all of a sudden it’s not a chore anymore. Don’t tackle the entire home in one cleaning session. Break it up by doing small amounts over the course of the week
  5. Join a group—Because some people may find exercise boring, staying active with friends may help keep it fun. Consider exercising with a group of people to keep each other motivated. Things like joining a gym, exercising with friends and family, or seeking out your local MS center may help you enjoy exercise more. Activities like yoga, Pilates, or spinning are great for groups. Most important, the interaction you’ll get with other people while performing any of these activities is great therapy for your state of mind
  6. Make a splash—The best part about exercising in the pool is that you can work your body in so many different ways while staying cool. Swim laps, participate in water aerobics, or get creative and invent your own ways to get your body moving. Learn how aquatic exercise may help with your MS symptoms

Keep in mind, there are various MS groups (local and worldwide) that offer exercise programs and classes geared toward those with MS. I’d recommend giving them a try. You might meet some great new friends and learn new ways to help lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s also nice to know there are others in the same boat as you.

MS affects everyone differently, so try different ways of exercising to see what works best for you. Work with your physical therapist and doctor before beginning a new exercise to make sure the activity you choose aligns with your specific condition. When starting any type of new activity, it’s important to be patient and take it slow—even if it means just a few minutes a day. Listen to your body and be careful not to overdo it. Remember, there are lots of ways to work movement into your daily routine. So get out there and make today the day you start being more active.