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New Exercise Guidelines and Toolkit for MS Patients Announced

Exercise guidelines for MS

Let’s face it: if you have multiple sclerosis (MS), exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing. Yet because physical activity is so important for MS patients, a team of researchers has developed a set of new exercise guidelines and a toolkit to help facilitate MSers reach their full potential.

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Only you can take that first step to exercise but once you do, “Evidence indicates that engaging in exercise has the potential to improve and/or maintain functional ability, aerobic fitness, strength, fatigue and depression among people with MS,” according to Amy Latimer-Cheung of the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University. Latimer-Cheung and her colleagues at McMaster University and the University of Illinois conducted extensive reviews of the available studies on exercise and MS, which ultimately lead to the MS Get Fit Toolkit (which can be accessed from this link) and the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults with MS.

Although a review of the guidelines and toolkit does not reveal anything unusual, the information may be news for some MSers, and it can be beneficial for those who need some additional reassurance or motivation to engage in physical activity. In fact, the developers name the minimal amount of exercise recommended for people with MS and the types they should consider.

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For example:

  • MSers who have mild to moderate disability should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activities (effort that allows you to talk but not sing) twice a week and strength training twice a week as well
  • Aerobic and strength training can be done on the same day, but this is highly individual
  • MSers who are confined to a wheelchair are encouraged to try hand cycles, free weights, and other options
  • Pilates, yoga, and stretching are suggested as additional activities

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The toolkit also offers tips on how to avoid injury, examples of activities, ways to overcome barriers to exercising, and links to more exercise ideas and information.

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, “individuals with MS are likely to experience improvements in fitness from a smaller dose of exercise than adults in the general population.” Recommendations for the general public are 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week along with strength training twice a week.

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For MSers, less can mean more. If you are not exercising, not exercising enough, or need some motivation, check out these guidelines and the toolkit and talk with your healthcare professional. Then grab a friend, a video, some music, or whatever it takes to make exercise a part of your routine for better health.

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Queens University

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