Woman Exercising

Getting started with exercise

Find simple tips to help get started with exercise

Multiple sclerosis (MS) may affect mood, outlook, and mindset—but exercise may have a positive impact for you. When you’re new to exercise, you may become tired, but this is normal. Your body has to be given time to adjust to this new activity. Everyone is different, so everyone will see different results. Be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine so he or she can help you find one that’s right for you.

These are all great reasons why people living with MS should consider adding exercise into their daily routine (as appropriate). If exercise isn’t already a part of your life, it might be a scary thought to start something new. However, facing that fear could be one of the best things to ever happen.

Here are some tips to get you started in the right direction:

Doctor With Stethoscope Speaking With Patient

Talk to your doctor

It’s important to keep your doctor in the loop about what changes you are making to your daily routine, as well as simply letting him or her know you would like to start exercising. Your doctor may provide valuable input, or have concerns, so an open dialogue is good.

Choose an activity you enjoy

Pick an activity that will make it feel less like “work” and will be more tolerable. Exercise is meant to be fun, positive, and successful. Doing something you enjoy may make the journey seem less taxing! 

Start slow and low

Easing into exercise when it is new is very important. If you come flying out of the gate, many things could happen (such as injury, soreness, or fatigue) that could discourage you from continuing. If you have to start with three minutes on a treadmill and increase a minute every day or two, that's fine! Much better safe than sorry.

Two Women Stretching

Get assistance from a physical therapist or personal trainer if you can

A trainer or therapist can help make sure you are doing things safely. Many gyms also offer free classes with expert instructors. It may also keep you accountable so you stay on the path.

Pace yourself

Adding exercise to your daily routine is meant to make you feel good. Especially at the beginning, allow your body to go through the adjustment phase. During this time, you will begin to learn about your body and how it responds to this new activity level. With MS, every day can be a bit different than the next. As you begin to learn about your body, you and your doctor may better be able to decide what or how much activity you can do on any given day.

Pay attention to your heat level

Many people with MS have to be careful about overheating. If heat does affect you, pay close attention to how much you exert yourself. Sit down and take breaks whenever needed. Do not feel discouraged if you need to take a break. Instead, feel successful when you finish a workout (regardless of how long it takes). Every day may be different, so take things one day at a time.

Water Bottle

Stay hydrated

Drinking cold water can assist in keeping your heat levels regulated. Hydration could help you work toward your exercise goals, so drink up!

I hope this helps you overcome any fears you may have about starting exercise. Remember, talk to your doctor first and start slow. Five minutes on a treadmill, walking up one flight of stairs, walking one block, and stretching for 10 minutes are good examples of first steps. We all have to start somewhere, so find some pride at the starting point because the decision to add exercise to your routine will certainly bring good things. Good luck and have fun!