Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a debilitating disease that affects more than two million people worldwide. It is believed that the disease is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the healthy tissues in the central nervous system. It can lead to pain, fatigue, and even memory loss. However, new studies are showing that aerobic exercise may benefit patients with MS.

50% of people dealing with the effects of multiple sclerosis have some level of memory loss. As of now, no drugs or behavioral therapies have worked to correct this symptom. However, in the study performed by researchers at the Kessler foundation, individuals with MS were asked to perform aerobic and non-aerobic exercises and their brain function was then tested. The exercises were divided into bicycling and stretching to see the difference between the two in relation to the disease. Using both MRI and memory assessments, the patients were tested after exercising. Those who were asked to ride a bicycle performed better than those who stretched. No benefits were recorded in patients who performed non-aerobic exercises.

The benefits of aerobic exercise for patients with multiple scleroris include a reduction of the memory loss that is seen in 50% of patients.

Additionally, aerobic exercise has a number of other benefits for the health of individuals with MS. Here are a few of the most recommended exercises to add to your routine alongside cardio.

  • Yoga: Focusing on poses and breathing is a great way to get exercise and relax both the mind and body. Yoga is very deliberate in practice and individuals can take their time getting to know the poses and breathing techniques. Yoga classes are available in most communities at many price points.
  • Tai Chi: Like yoga, tai chi is very adaptable. It is also a form of moving meditation. Tai chi was developed as part of the Buddhist practice and focuses on fluid movements from one pose to the next. Community centers and martial arts studios in your area are likely to offer classes.
  • Water aerobics: Exercising in water is ideal for many conditions including multiple sclerosis. Because of your buoyancy, water aerobics are extremely low impact and put little strain on muscles. Community centers and pools normally have classes available. Swimming is also a great way to stay cool in the summertime.

What other exercises could be beneficial for individuals with multiple sclerosis?

Image by Fort Meade via Flickr

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