Exercise - do you think it helps?

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Exercise - do you think it helps?

Postby hlm286 » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:00 am

Okay, I know exercise is one of the most important health factors in life and pretty obvious why, but I was wondering how many of you use exercise to help improve MS? I try to follow a healthy diet and am looking for the motivation to exercise daily and it got me thinking if it really would help improve my symptoms (I know it will help to be healthier no matter what, I've just been curious as to others experience with exercise either helping or hindering their recovery). So what is your take on the effects of exercise on your symptoms?

Thanks!
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Postby euphoniaa » Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:09 pm

Hi hlm,

I'm absolutely positive that starting a strenuous exercise routine about 20 years ago is what has kept my body so strong and mobile - after probably 36 years with MS - and many other medical conditions, too . :) I'm not even positive which symptom is from which and after all, I'm pretty old, too, so the fact that I can still pick up my cane and scamper up several flights of stairs (did I really describe myself as a scamperer?) with all the leg issues I have is pretty good evidence.

Over the years I've kept adding exercises until I've got one for just about every part of my body, although my PT found a weakness behind my knees; I added stretchy rubber band strips to address that. Another PT suggested my walking would improve if I walk on my toes, and the vascular doc said it would improve my veins. So I awkwardly tiptoe from room to room. Kegel exercises reduce bowel/bladder problems.

I'm positive that I'm secondary progressive, but my leg muscles and hand grip are so strong they don't register as a deficit in an exam. I use a finger exercise ball that has practically eliminated a finger tremor, allowing me to continue to type and play piano. I've always thought that I figured out how to get rid of L'hermitte's many years ago - thru exercise - but don't know for sure. It's 99% gone, though. My walking speed and 'peg board' speed continue to improve at my yearly neuro visits, even though I can feel the MS sloooowly progressing.

Besides those things, I credit regular morning exercise for reducing my fatigue and raising my energy level for the day. And my mood. I think you can find studies that suggest that's the case. I exercise first, then often head out for a 10-11 hour day of work and class. I walk toe to heel backwards for my balance.

I wouldn't even give up my exercise and stair climbing when they had to tape my kneecap into place for 6 weeks - completely unrelated to MS. It's been 6 years since then and I still haven't needed surgery on it. And, most important, I continue to exercise my brain and my sense of humor. :)

Even if exercise wouldn't improve or eliminate the specific MS symptoms you want it to, it will improve your health and your attitude, and it just plain makes you feel good. That should be enough. I'm glad you're already working toward diet and exercise goals and hope you achieve them. Please keep us posted on your progress!

P.S. I don't do every exercise every day, of course, but do try to rotate all of them into my life regularly, along with many others. I've got a lot of body parts that need fixing. :)
Dx'd with MS & HNPP (hereditary peripheral neuropathy) 7/03 but must have had MS for 30 yrs before that. I've never taken meds for MS except 1 yr experiment on LDN. (I found diet, exercise, sleep, humor, music help me the most.)
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Postby hlm286 » Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:02 pm

Thank you for your uplifting response! So how did you start your exercise regimen? Did you get a personal trainer, go to a gym, or just start at home? I have a treadmill and stationary bike at home as well as a weight machine so I'm equipped to start from home but it's a lot less motivating. How do you keep your motivation up? I also work in a before and after school program and have a toddler so it's more challenging to find a time that works!
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Postby euphoniaa » Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:13 am

hlm286 wrote:Thank you for your uplifting response! So how did you start your exercise regimen? Did you get a personal trainer, go to a gym, or just start at home? I have a treadmill and stationary bike at home as well as a weight machine so I'm equipped to start from home but it's a lot less motivating. How do you keep your motivation up? I also work in a before and after school program and have a toddler so it's more challenging to find a time that works!


Well hlm, any kind of exercise is good for one's health in general, but I've also concentrated on finding ways to target very specific parts of my body that don't work right - like my fingers, for instance.

I was motivated to start in the 1st place when I was hit by Lhermitte's sign (see definition from wikipedia) and figured if I was gonna have to drag my leg around for the rest of my life I should try to make it easier for myself by losing weight and exercising.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lhermitte%27s_sign
Lhermitte's Sign, sometimes called the Barber Chair phenomenon, is an electrical sensation that runs down the back and into the limbs from involvement of the posterior columns, and is produced by bending the neck forward or backward.


I'm still not positive that those jolts are from MS, because I had a couple of whiplash incidents in my childhood that obviously damaged my neck a little, but I barely feel it now.

Anyway, within a couple of days I could already see a difference in my body and I've never stopped - just added exercises along with each medical issue. I go thru spells of going to our local "Life Center" and using the weight machines, but that only seems to target muscle strengthening in a straight up-down-up-down way and to me, mobility is important. At home I start by kinda "dancing" around the house to limber everything up and then do exercises like crunches in a slightly different position every time. I think the treadmill and bikes at the Center help my brain remember how to walk, but I'm already out till almost 9:00 at night and I can't work it in much this semester (I'm taking an evening class).

Some of the things I've come up with have given me amazing results, and just moving my body in the morning boosts my energy enough to keep up the routine. I like to get in 30 minutes, but I do 5 or 10 if life intervenes and rearranges my schedule. To me, variety is the key - targeting every single body part possible - including the brain. :)

Finding out I had MS 15 years after I started the exercise gave me even more motivation to keep it up, so I was shocked to find so little encouragement when I first found the MS forums. My suggestions about how I improved a symptom with diet & exercise were often met with silence...and then a request, "But does anyone know what drug to take for that?" :?

I've always said that I don't exercise to prolong my life, but to ease my way through it (and out of it) as smoothly as possible. I wish you good luck with your routine!
Dx'd with MS & HNPP (hereditary peripheral neuropathy) 7/03 but must have had MS for 30 yrs before that. I've never taken meds for MS except 1 yr experiment on LDN. (I found diet, exercise, sleep, humor, music help me the most.)
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Postby hlm286 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:44 am

Thanks again for your response. I am definitely familiar with Lehrmitte's (that was how this all started for me and it still comes and goes). I too believe that a healthy lifestyle can greatly improve wellbeing, not just with MS, that's why I immediately started trying to learn all that I can about the correlations between MS and nutrition/exercise and through that, obtain motivation. You have sure helped me see the brighter side of making yourself get off the couch and I will try to keep it up. :wink:
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Postby Sharon » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:56 am

Hi hlm,

I am a true believer in exercise - 'euphoniaa' gave you an excellent answer to your questions, so no need for me to repeat what she said. My excercise routine is Pilates twice a week, strength training twice a week, golf and anything else that keeps me moving!

Sharon
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Postby Wendigo » Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:28 am

Saturday & early Sunday my legs felt so wobbly and weak we almost called off a trip to a large flea market. One of my knees actually had given way Saturday and almost went down and thought Sunday I'd literally shop til I dropped.

I REALLY wanted to go to that flea market but also wondered if the stress might bring on an attack or lay me low for days, etc. Just the flip flopping mentally was stressful. I finally decided if I give in to the weakness I will end up needing a wheelchair sooner rather than later.

Distracted mentally by all the interesting items for sale, I walked at least a mile. I was not sore afterward, that day or now, nor more tired than usual. I'd never use a treadmill or any exercise equipment in my home or have self discipline for a gym membership to be worthwhile - but flea markets are my "exercise." Whatever works.
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Postby scoobyjude » Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:02 pm

Well I can tell you what my experience is with exercise. For the last 2 years I have been exercising 5 days a week. 5 days cardio on the treadmill, 3 days weight training. I felt good and strong. About a month and a half ago my life hit a stress pocket and I haven't felt like exercising since. About 3 weeks ago my right leg, ankle and foot started to feel stiff and my energy level became null even though mentally I'm feeling much better. Obviously exercise had a huge impact on my health. I don't know if the stress has thrown me into a mini-relapse but I know I need to get back into exercise because obviously it did help me. I think besides physically I was just able to deal with my stresses better. It has also been my experience that it is easier to recover from relapses if I'm in better shape. Just my two cents.
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Postby ewizabeth » Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:59 pm

Regular exercise is one of the keys to maintaining muscle strength and retaining mobility in MS according to everything I've ever read on the subject. When I don't exercise I begin to go downhill rapidly. So I make myself do it even when I don't feel like it in the absence of a current relapse.
Take care, Ewizabeth Previously Avonex, Rebif & Copaxone RRMS ~Tysabri, 31 infusions, ended 9/09. Starting Copaxone 12/09, waiting for Cladribine to be approved in 2010.
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Postby Wonderfulworld » Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:53 am

YES DEFINITELY!
Sometimes people can get upset that they get an increase in symptoms after exercising, or that when you start an exercise regime you tend to feel much more fatigued but the good definitely outweighs the bad for me.

I just ignore the temporary increase in symptoms and view each bit of exercise as me giving the "2 fingers" to MS. :D

I don't exercise as routinely as I'd like but I do MS yoga once a week with a class, and try to do 3 x 30 minute walks per week. Sometimes, if I'm feeling really good, I add half kg weights to my ankle and right wrist because it's the weaker side. Lugging a heavy 20 month old around and chasing him as he toddles at top-speed makes up the rest of my exercise regime!!

Even when I've relapsed I still try to keep going with small exercises, stretching, gentle balance exercises, even just flexing muscles and practising co-ordination. It all helps.

For those who are not mobile at all or who are very limited in their mobility, I remember seeing a paper on visualistion and exercise. In other words, just thinking yourself through an exercise routine actually fires the nerves for movement and has a physical effect.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Concussus Resurgo
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
RR-MS dx 1998 and Coeliac dx 2003
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Copaxone, Cymbalta. EPO, Fish Oils, Vitamin D3 2000 IU daily, Cal/Mag/Zinc, Multivitamin/mineral, Co-Enzyme Q10, Probiotics, Milk Thistle.
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Postby abbadavis » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:16 am

Daily exercise in the early morning makes yourself fit and healthy. It is needed that your body get some warmup with the walk or run or with exercise in the cool early morning atmosphere gives the freshness and it helps to make your health better. It is suggested by the doctors also.
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Postby sbr487 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:17 pm

In last 6 years, I would have missed my daily routine of exercise for probably 50 days at max. People exercise to stay fit, I exercise to be operational. Without exercise, I feel so fatigued, disoriented, irritable etc.
I have no doubt that my exercise is the reason why I am in an ok stage even after 16 years with MS. BTW, I was a big fitness freak before MS.

I do daily jogging for 3-4 KM. After that 15 minutes of stretching exercise and another 15 minutes of yoga. After this I feel relaxed, calm mind, less fatigued, less rigid body. Just to give comparison, I feel a little bit like what a normal person would feel once he gets up in the morning (in fact, I think this is the reason why healthly people find it so hard to motivate themeslves to exercise)
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Postby happytown » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:55 pm

Exercise helps alot. If I go 2-3 days without it, I dont walk right. And it hurts like crazy when I start back up. My motivation is seeing patients bedbound with MS. And Im motivated right now because I want to drop a size.
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Postby Bubba » Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:23 pm

I was, and still am a "Phat Boy". That being said, I used to cringe at the word "exersize". I have been having alot of stress for the pass 5 years or so. Couldn't sleep at night, ect... My doctors (as they always do) kept bringing up excersize,yada yada yada.. Well, stress (marital, work, ect..) was really getting to me to the point I thought I was going to go nuts! So, one night after work, I was walking by the gym and glanced over at the treadmill and figured "what the hell, it can't hurt", so I got on and did a quarter mile. That night I slept really good. Now I only did a quarter mile because that was my max out limit, I was tired, sweaty, and out of breath. The next day I thought about how good I had slept due to the exersize, so I did it again. I kept it up every night and eventually bought myself a bicycle to be able to exersize at home. Not only have I dropped 42lbs, but I feel better than ever. My stress level is managable during the day now and I get 6 straight hours of deep, excellent sleep every night. I have worked my way up to 2 miles on the treadmill and 6-8 miles on my bicycle, daily. I could kick myself in the butt for not doing this sooner. I am about seven weeks into my routine now and have no plans to stop. I can tell you that my MS related symptoms have also been reduced by 80%. Also, my heat tolerance has improved 100%. In short, I believe exersize is one of the most important treatments we can do. :D
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The problem comes with the decision of weighing the unknown with the unknown.
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Postby JadeVictoria » Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:49 pm

Whether I exercise or not is one of the few things I feel like I have control over since I was diagnosed. I do eliptical and treadmill on alternating days along with weights, bands and balance exercises. I am also a big fan of walking on my toes and heels, and standing on one leg while I wash dishes or get ready to go in the morning. I am hoping maybe I can run a 5k by fall. I would be so proud. I used to run half marathons before all this struck, but I think an MS 5k would really be something. Jade
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