First thing's first, you have to make sure it is reasonably safe to exercise! Please see your primary care physician, neurologist, and/or physical therapist before starting or changing your exercise routine. There are real risks (cardiopulmonary, orthopedic) with exercise. My advice is offered peer to peer and is not a substitute for an informed medical evaluation.
After you've got the OK to move, it's time to find or create a plan. I will offer some suggestions in later posts, but today I encourage you to organize your activity and set some short-term goals.
- Have your plan evaluated by someone who knows something about MS and your current state of health. Again, safety first!
- Be open to modifications. Exercising with MS often requires (mental) flexibility. If it works, pursue it! If it doesn't work, change it! Comment here for advice on modifications.
- If you feel at risk, STOP! Fear is our natural protection mechanism. Respect it!
- Find something you truly enjoy. The benefits of exercise come from longer-term adherence to a plan and regular execution. Trying to go out and "bust your butt" once in a while is not helpful and it is dangerous.
- Never radically increase the amount of exercise you do. Follow the 10% rule (or LESS) - never increase any exercise by more than 10% per week (in time, distance, reps, or weight). I often back off the 10% rule and make it a 5% rule. It may take longer to achieve goals, but it's far better than being sidelined with an injury.
- Find others to support you. This site can help. Reach out for support to me, your family, your friends, others with and without physical challenges.
- Make your goals known. Post, Tweet, email... whatever works.
- Keep at it! Try and try again...
Yes, to exercise - as much and as often as you are able.
I am not a going to sell any products, plans, or endorse any one type of exercise. The goal is to find what works for you today and DO IT. Something else might work better next week, but, for today, find a modality that works.
Yes, I run, I lift, I stretch, I do circuits, I walk, I practice yoga, I kayak, I play soccer, I swim, I hike, I ski...
But I don't endorse any one of these - I search for the ones that work to help me meet my goals of staying strong, flexible, and active (without hurting myself). Again, it's one day at a time.
I have found many, many modifications that allow me to get a lot out of every session. No balance, no problem! Low vision, we can address that! Tight muscles, we'll loosen them! Trouble sleeping, exercise can help! Don't be afraid to modify!! And, if something's truly not working, scrap it and try something else. Just because it doesn't work now, doesn't mean it won't work in the future. Revisit the exercise at another time.
Feel free to comment on what works for you or ask any questions you many have about how to go about exercise. I will try to post on a variety of approaches. Your requests are encouraged!