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Exercise Considerations for Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.)

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Exercise can provide a wide range of benefits for people of all ages, from improving brain health to weight management and reducing cardiovascular disease risk. However, if you have been diagnosed with MS, the thought of exercise may cause more anxiety than anything else. There are many myths about exercise being harmful to those with MS, and it causes many to miss out on its benefits. Read below to learn the benefits of exercise for people with MS and exercise considerations to help you exercise safely and in the most beneficial way for you.

Why is exercise important for those with MS?

Studies have shown that regular exercise can assist with the management of common MS symptoms, including weakness, fatigue, bowel and bladder function, cognitive function, and poor coordination. Additionally, increased weight can increase these symptoms, and regular exercise can assist in weight management, which can also help decrease fatigue symptoms and improve mobility, mood, and sleep.

What kind of exercise is best for MS?

Exercise recommendations for MS patients are at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3 days a week. Beyond that, any type of exercise that you enjoy can be beneficial! The CDC recommends a mix of aerobic exercise and strength training for MS patients and the general population to maintain cardiovascular, muscular, and bone health.

Safety Considerations for exercise with MS

It is now well documented that exercise DOES NOT cause MS exacerbations. However, participating in an exercise that is too aggressive may bring on short-term worsening of pre-existing symptoms. This has been determined to be due to the increase in body temperature, which can be addressed using cooling garments, and fans, and staying hydrated prior to, during, and after exercising. If it takes longer than 2 hours after exercise to return to baseline, this may be a sign to decrease either the intensity or duration of the exercise.

Tips for a successful workout:

  • Stay hydrated

    • Cold water can help keep your body temperature low and decrease fatigue following exercise.

  • Exercise in a cool environment

    • Exercising in a warm environment will further increase body temperature that is already elevated by exercise, causing a greater likelihood of symptom increase following activity. If you exercise outdoors, try to exercise at cooler times of the day, either early or late in the day.

  • Do not live by “no pain, no gain.”

    • This should not be your mantra. As discussed, if the activity is too aggressive, this can be counterproductive.

  • Prioritize safety

    • Just because the man or woman next to you is lifting 100 pounds or running at 7 mph doesn’t mean you have to. Everyone is at different levels and places in their fitness journey. Do what is right and feels good for your body.

Exercise can have many benefits, from improved cardiovascular fitness and strength to improved mood and decreased fatigue. A diagnosis of MS should not deter you from starting an exercise routine. Moderate-intensity exercise of at least 30 minutes 3 times a week is recommended to improve the quality of life in MS patients.

Not sure how to start an exercise program? Wellness 360 Physical Therapy and Massage specializes in neuro rehab and can help you start your fitness journey. With multiple programs, including 1 on 1 session, group classes, and an online Wellness on Demand platform, we have multiple tools to help you reach your fitness goals.

To learn more about Wellness 360, visit our website at


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