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MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) AND EXERCISE

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease, which affects the central nervous system (CNS). The term demyelination refers to the loss of the myelin, the fatty material that insulates the nerves. This loss of myelin adversely affects speed of conduction, which in turn affects smooth, rapid, coordinated movement. According to the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (www.ucsfhealth.org), if you have multiple sclerosis, exercise can help retain flexibility and balance, promote cardiovascular fitness and a sense of well-being, and prevent complications from inactivity. Exercise also helps regulate appetite, bowel movements and sleep patterns. SIT AND BE FIT is an excellent exercise option for those who are managing multiple sclerosis because they address four exercise components that are especially important for those managing multiple sclerosis- stretching, coordination, strengthening and upper body exercise. The following information was adapted from www.ucshealth.org regarding exercises for multiple sclerosis information for people managing multiple sclerosis and multiple sclerosis pain:

Stretching -- Frequently, persons managing multiple sclerosis have spasticity, especially in their lower extremities. This can cause the legs to stiffen if a regular stretching program is not incorporated into the daily routine of activities. Stretching exercises help to maintain or improve muscle length to allow greater flexibility.

Coordination -- Coordination exercises are done to improve balance and ease of purposeful movement. The degree of skill required to perform the exercises varies. An appropriate program will be discussed with the individual multiple sclerosis patient.  For more information on exercises that will help coordination click here.

Strengthening -- Strengthening exercises are designed to build weakened muscles to aid in moving and walking. While being beneficial, discretion is advised when carrying out a strengthening program. For instance, if one has undergone a vigorous session of exercising but is too tired to prepare dinner or do chores that ordinarily can be done without difficulty, it may be necessary to modify the program or space the activity more evenly throughout the day.  For helpful strengthening exercises try: Chair Exercises for Seniors, Leg Strengthening and Balance, and Poor Balance and Exercise.

Upper Body Exercises -- Upper body exercises should promote flexibility and muscle balance as well as to enhance upper extremity function. Stretches are to be done slowly, generally being held for approximately five to 10 seconds.  For helpful upper body exercises try: Upper Body Health, Neck Exercises, and Arm Exercises.

Recommended SIT AND BE FIT exercises for managing multiple sclerosis:

 

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