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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) & Exercise

What are the benefits of exercise with ms (multiple sclerosis)?

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating autoimmune disease, CNS interference created by “scarring” along the spinal cord, in the brain and optic nerves.

What that means is nerve impulses that run into these scars will be stopped or disrupt the impulses resulting in a number of neurological issues like motor and sensory disturbances.

This results in a large range of potential issues for the body some being:

  • loss of muscle innovation and sensation
  • visual impairment, fatigue
  •  neuropsychological disturbances
  •  thermosensitivity.

This could mean:

  •  increased spasticity in muscles,
  •  neuropathy, loss of coordination
  •  increased risk of falls
  •  vertigo
  •  ataxia
  •  affected speech and ability to swallow
  •  developing a tremor
  •  lack of control of the pelvic floor
  • and more

Any and all neurological issues are possible with MS.

Though the condition develops predominantly in young women, men are also at risk ranging from anywhere from 16yrs – 55yrs old, with people who are obese and or smoke at higher risk.

What are the risks associated with MS?

  • Inactivity through amplification of feelings of fatigue, you could have 30-50% more brain activity at rest! This means your mental capacity is being wasted on trivial and anxious thoughts!
  • Increase anxiety of falls due to imbalance
  • Poor ability to regulate heat – you’ll overheat more easily
  • Leads to a sedentary lifestyle
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Certain Cancers (Colon and Breast)
  • Negative psychological effects
  • Inactivity breeds inactivity

What are the benefits of exercise with MS?

  • Reduction of co-morbidities and…
  • Muscle Weakness improvements
  • Balance improvements
  • Falls risk reduction
  • Fatigue reduction
  • Sensory Loss decrease and positive sensory changes
  • Reductions of decline in mobility
  • Positive Cognitive changes
  • Heat sensitivity control
  • Positive Vestibular changes
  • Pain improvements
  • Increased walking Speed

What type of exercise is recommended with MS?

After ~1000 published articles starting in the 1980s, there is no record of exercise having any negative effects on the progressions of MS.

3 important areas to be aware of when exercising with MS are;

– Risk of falls – take extra precautions! One injury could be the difference between living with and without pain, gaining function and losing significant function or living a healthy active lifestyle and being bed bound for extended periods of time. Be vigilant of risk and start exercising with an exercise physiologist to get you moving in a controlled manner.

– Temperature Control – always exercise with cold water ready to drink and a fan or air conditioning when available. Living with MS can mean suffering from heat fatigue much sooner than the average person, water chilled to 1.5°c has proven to be the most effective way to easily cool down the body. So have an icy beverage ready when you are exercising OR better yet jump in the pool and try hydrotherapy!

– Fatigue – High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been proven to be very effective when prescribed correctly to control the intensified feelings of fatigue that people with MS struggle with. You should be breathless at the end of each bout and keep the work: rest ratio at 1:1 to give your body time to cool down.

It is also important to mention that high-intensity exercise can lead to a temporary worsening of your MS symptoms, however, this is only temporary! All studies have shown that this effect only lasts for short periods of time!

Guidelines state that for adults with MS that 30min of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise twice per week and strength training twice per week. HIIT is a great way to get all the necessary cardiovascular and muscle growth benefits with more control over body temperature and fatigue levels, get in contact with Be Physiology now to figure out how to exercise with your condition!

————-

References:

1. Richardson, E. V., Blaylock, S., Barstow, E., Fifolt, M., & Motl, R. W. (2019). Evaluation of a

Conceptual Model to Guide Health Care Providers in Promoting Exercise Among

Persons With Multiple Sclerosis. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 36(1), 109–131.

(Behaviour change)

2. Coote, S., Uszynski, M., Herring, M. P., Hayes, S., Scarrott, C., Newell, J., Gallagher, S.,

Larkin, A., & Motl, R. W. (2017). Effect of exercising at minimum recommendations of

the multiple sclerosis exercise guideline combined with structured education or

attention control education – secondary results of the step it up randomised

controlled trial. BMC Neurology, 17(1), 119. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12883-017-0898-y

(Fatigue and Strength)

3. Sandroff, B. M., Baird, J. F., Silveira, S. L., & Motl, R. W. (2019). Response heterogeneity in

fitness, mobility and cognition with exercise-training in MS. Acta Neurologica

Scandinavica, 139(2), 183–191. https://doi.org/10.1111/ane.13041 (Aerobic & Cognitive)

4. Motl, R. W., & Sandroff, B. M. (2015). Benefits of Exercise Training in Multiple

Sclerosis. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, 15(9), 62.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s11910-015-0585-6 (Walking, Balance, Cogn., Depression, Fatig.)

5. Hebert, J. R., Corboy, J. R., Manago, M. M., & Schenkman, M. (2011). Effects of Vestibular

Rehabilitation on Multiple Sclerosis-Related Fatigue and Upright Postural Control: A

Randomized Controlled Trial. Physical Therapy, 91(8), 1166–1183.

https://doi.org/10.2522/ptj.20100399 (Vestibular)

6. Motl, R. W., McAuley, E., Snook, E. M., & Gliottoni, R. C. (2009). Physical activity and

quality of life in multiple sclerosis: intermediary roles of disability, fatigue, mood,

pain, self-efficacy and social support. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 14(1), 111–124.

https://doi.org/10.1080/13548500802241902 (Pain, Fatigue)

7. Filingeri, D., Chaseling, G., Hoang, P., Barnett, M., Davis, S. L., & Jay, O. (2017). Afferent

thermosensory function in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis following exercise-

induced increases in body temperature. Experimental Physiology, 102(8), 887–893.

https://doi.org/10.1113/EP086320 (Heat Sensitivity)

8. Sosnoff J, Motl RW, Snook EM, & Wynn D. (2009). Effect of a 4-week period of

unloaded leg cycling exercise on spasticity in multiple

sclerosis. NeuroRehabilitation, 24(4), 327–331. https://doi.org/10.3233/NRE-2009-0486

(Spasticity – Reported)

9. Horn, K. K., Allen, D. D., Gibson-Horn, C., & Widener, G. L. (2018). Effects of Torso-

Weighting on Standing Balance and Falls During the Sensory Organization Test in

People with Multiple Sclerosis. International Journal of MS Care, 20(2), 68–75.

https://doi.org/10.7224/1537-2073.2015-090 (Sensory Changes)

10. Davy, G. (2017). The power of Exercise for Multiple Scelrosis. (NeuroConnect Webinar)

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rrc&AN=T708460&site=rrc-

live (General Guidelines)

11. Chaseling GK, Filingeri D, Barnett M, Hoang P, Davis SL, Jay O. Cold Water Ingestion

Improves Exercise Tolerance of Heat-Sensitive People with MS. Med Sci Sports Exerc.

2018;50(4):643–648. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001496 (Heat Sensitivity)

12. Haensch CA, Jörg J. Autonomic dysfunction in multiple sclerosis. J Neurol. 2006;253

Suppl 1:I3–I9. doi:10.1007/s00415-006-1102-2 (Autonomic Impairment)

13. Hubbard EA, Motl RW, Fernhall BO. Acute High-Intensity Interval Exercise in Multiple

Sclerosis with Mobility Disability. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019;51(5):858–867.

doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001866 (HIIT, MS) https://www.msaustralia.org.au/what-ms

14. Hunter SF. Overview and diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Am J Manag Care. 2016;22(6

Suppl):s141–s150.

15. Dressendorfer R., Palmer E. Multiple Sclerosis (Physical Therapy). Rehabilitation

Reference Centre. 2019.

Meet the team

Be Physiology

At Be Physiology we focus on exercise and movement for the management and improvement of neurological and chronic conditions.

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Trent Brock | Mobile Exercise Physiologist

Trent Brock

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I have had 3 major passions throughout my life; exercise, competitive sports, and a strong will to help others. Those 3 factors made it an easy decision to pursue a career as an exercise physiologist. By encouraging and facilitating evidence-based exercise rehabilitation, I can help individuals living with various chronic conditions, particularly those living with neurological conditions.
I see exercise physiology as an extremely beneficial practice that enables clients to experience an improved quality of life. Personally, being able to provide insight into exercise and other tools that can equip clients with helpful skills and wellbeing improvements is extremely fulfilling. Being able to improve not only an individual, but their support network’s day-to-day life fills me with great joy and motivates me to continue to be better so that I can do better. I understand that everyone has a different view of exercise and there is no one-size fits all approach, so I operate with an open and adaptive mind, supported by evidence-based practices. If you or anyone that you know is looking to improve their quality of life and begin a journey to improved living, or just have any general questions, get in touch and let's have a chat!
Michelle Marais AEP

Michelle Marais

mobile exercise physiologist
My passion for movement, health, and helping others led me to become an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Through this role, I facilitate exercise-based rehabilitation for individuals with various chronic conditions, with a primary interest and area of expertise in neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is about equipping clients with valuable skills that make daily tasks easier and empowering them to achieve their goals while enjoying the process.I take great pride in being a part of my clients' rehabilitation journey and exploring new methods with them to find the optimal exercise approach that works best for them.If you have any questions or are interested in starting your journey to a happier, healthier lifestyle, please feel free to reach out to me.
Angus Sullivan AEP

Angus Sullivan AEP

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
As an accredited exercise physiologist, I see my role as an opportunity to facilitate a safe and effective environment for my clients to explore their physical capabilities, identify areas where they would like to improve, and then prescribe meaningful and appropriate activities to achieve these improvements.
I currently work predominantly with individuals living with disability and have a keen interest in acquired brain injuries (ABI), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), cerebral palsy (CP), spinal cord injuries (SCI) and rare neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is not only about achieving narrow objective goals (eg. 1 Rep Max bench press), but improving an individual’s lifestyle and making activities of daily living easier (mobilising, transferring, feeding, and more).
I love what I do and enjoy learning new methods and discussing different opinions about exercise. I am always happy to chat about it so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share!
Our team of mobile exercise physiologists

Walter White

manager of good vibes
Being active has taken on a whole new meaning and I am 100% here for it. I like to fink I'm pretty active, and I keep up de vibes during team meetings - just making sure everyone's hands are always moving (across my butt) because I know dat any exercise is good exercise.
I keep close to everyone, real close, just to keep dem on their toes when dey walk by too.
Fings are always better when I am der so if you need some good vibes, I will be der for you.
Brb just going to have a snooze.
Love and licks,
Wally
Brittney Kenward

Brittney Kenward

co-founder / Operations manager
I’m NOT an exercise physiologist, but I do take my hat off to my team and get to admire the work they do each and every day. Be Physiology means that we’re able to apply our passion, and our experience, to make exercise physiology more accessible to the people who need it the most.
You might hear the team describe me as ‘the person who does everything else’, and that can be translated to ‘marketing and operations'. My background is marketing and business, which I’ve lived and breathed since 2011. I’ve worked in both the agency and corporate spaces, across many industries, with many amazing people and now with Be Physiology, I get to explore the health industry further and continue to meet the most incredible people who are the ones to define motivation.
If you’ve met Harry and Aj, you’d know that they don’t really need marketing - they’re genuine, have ridiculous amounts of charisma, knowledgeable, and extremely passionate about helping people to be a better version of themselves. But, sometimes getting an introduction is the hardest part and that’s where I come in.
If you want to chat, a coffee, a laugh, I’m always here to make one or all of them happen.

So call me and let’s keep sharing the love!
Keegan Betts AEP

Keegan Betts AEP

mobile exercise physiologist
As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, my work is driven by my passion for movement, health, and empowering others. With my experience working with individuals of all ages who have neurological conditions such as autism, stroke, and cerebral palsy, I focus on delivering activity-based therapy to optimise their independence.
Seeing people empowered and handling daily tasks easier is incredibly rewarding, as well as being able to give others the tools to improve their mental health and prevent secondary health conditions.
I know the importance of creating a welcoming and safe environment particularly when improving our health and I always strive to ensure everybody feels supported by the team around them and receives the highest level of care.
Get in touch today and let's make it happen.
Kristen McCluskey

Kristen McCluskey

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
If you spend as little as 10 minutes a day exercising, it will still make a huge difference to your overall physical and mental health - this is a fact and it is very often underappreciated! The benefits of exercise don’t discriminate and the rumours are true, exercise is medicine.
Spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions and women’s health are areas I find to be very dynamic and that I am particularly passionate about, but all aspects of exercise physiology are unique and have a significant impact on people’s everyday lives and I want to continue bringing it to those who will benefit the most from it.
I'm passionate about learning new methods and learning what my clients enjoy and how they approach exercise. I am always happy to chat about the many benefits and outcomes of exercise physiology so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share.
If you’re interested in learning more about who I am or want to ask any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch at .
Charlotte Gill

Charlotte Gill

marketing assistant
My name is Charlotte, and I'm a sports enthusiast currently studying for a marketing degree. Although I am not an exercise physiologist, I have a passion for sports having a background in ski instructing and adaptive skiing. Like the team, I believe exercise is medicine and share a similar passion and values to help and motivate others I meet.
I've been fortunate enough to work globally with a background in event management, ski instructing, administrating, and climbing supervisor. However, working alongside the Be Physiology team as my dream role in marketing is a highlight. If you have had the pleasure of meeting the team, you will know their genuine, funny, knowledgeable, and passionate to help others. These are values that I also pride myself in, and I am so fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded colleagues.
Harry White AEP

Harry White AEP

co-founder / supervisor
Exercise physiology combines two of my favourite things: health and helping people. As an accredited exercise physiologist with more than seven years’ clinical experience, I have treated people presenting with a wide variety of health conditions and concerns, postural issues, chronic injuries and rehabilitation needs.
My expertise is spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders and helping my clients to achieve an improved quality of life through rehabilitation and functional training. Rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders can be slow but incredibly rewarding for clients when results are achieved, no matter how small. Assisting people through learning useful skills and functional training is the most important role that an EP can play to help people lead a more fulfilled life.
Working for many years with people who have suffered serious injury or live with a disability, I know that taking a proactive approach to your health changes your life. If you care for your body, it will take care of you.
I’m passionate about helping people live a long, healthy and active life, so call today.