May 1 marks the beginning of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) awareness month. MS is an autoimmune condition affecting the neural pathways of the brain. These neurons form the core of the body’s communication system. They send messages through the brain and to the peripheries that allow the body to do everything we need it to do. Ordinarily, these neurons are surrounded by a fatty sheath known as the myelin sheath, which acts as an insulator to allow for successful signal transmission between neurons. When the body’s immune system is triggered, it begins to degrade the myelin sheath meaning the neural signals cannot pass through. Imagine a phone line without the insulation: messages can become garbled and incoherent.
The condition can present in the body in a number of ways and symptoms vary from person to person. Regardless, exercise is considered one of the most important treatment options for all MS patients, and a combination of light aerobic exercise, resistance training and stretching is recommended. Not only can regular exercise maintain and improve physical condition and function, but it can assist in improving mood and decreasing fatigue. For some patients this maybe the first time they have undertaken an exercise program, so it is important to find types of exercises that are enjoyable as they will be more likely to continue with their program. It is also important to ensure that regardless of what type of exercise is performed, they stay hydrated and relatively cool during exercise, as dehydration and heat can exacerbate symptoms.
Given the complex nature of MS, it is important to seek professional advice and support. An Accredited Exercise Physiologist can develop a treatment plan that is specific to the individual and addresses their goals and needs. To find out how we can help, contact us in-studio to discuss what options are available.