If you live with multiple sclerosis (MS), fitness can be a challenge. Symptoms like pain, trouble walking, or fatigue can zap your desire to exercise. When facing challenges like those that come with MS, it’s important to think about what you can do instead of focusing on what you can’t.
Draw inspiration from these nine social media stars who are living with MS and who tackle sports from dancing to mountain climbing to swimming. Learn how they have harnessed their can-do attitudes!
1. David Lyons
Diagnosed with MS at age 47, David Lyons leveraged his passion for bodybuilding to fight his disease. Three years later, he competed in a National Physique Committee bodybuilding competition and was awarded “the most inspirational body builder.” As if that’s not inspirational enough, he also co-founded MS Fitness Challenge with his wife, Kendra. This organization connects certified professional trainers to people with MS to help them manage the effects of the disease through fitness and nutrition. Follow MS Fitness Challenge via Facebook or Twitter.
2. Kayla Montgomery
This collegiate runner is going the distance to beat MS. Diagnosed when she was 15 years old, Kayla Montgomery didn’t let MS pull her away from her passion of running. In high school she went on to become a cross-country and track and field state champion and ran a personal best of 17:22 for the outdoor 5K. That’s an average of 5:35 per mile! What’s more, at the finish line of each race she falls — falls into her coach’s outstretched arms. In 2014, Kayla told The New York Times, “I start out feeling normal and then my legs gradually go numb. I’ve trained myself to think about other things while I race, to get through. But when I break the motion, I can’t control them and I fall.” Continuing to excel at the sport, she is now a distance runner for Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow Kayla on Facebook to learn more about her journey.
3. Courtney Galiano
So, you think you can dance? For Courtney Galiano, the answer is yes. Diagnosed with MS in 2012 after experiencing symptoms during her time on tour for the seventh season of “So You Think You Can Dance,” she has continued to keep moving. Some of her work can be found in “Stand Up Guys,” “Rock of Ages,” “Glee,” and “Grease Live!” As part of advocating for the fight against MS, she worked with the National MS Society to start The Beat MS Dance Walk in Los Angeles, California. For some fitness inspiration, follow Courtney on Twitter, or click here to learn more about The Beat MS Dance Walk event.
4. Conor Devine
Diagnosed with MS when he was 28 years old, Conor Devine struggled to live with his disease for four years before deciding to take control. Conor is fighting his condition through nutrition and exercise and has become an endurance athlete. Of the two books he has written, his most recent, “Ironmind: Against All Odds,” discusses his journey to complete two marathons, two triathlons, a half-Ironman, and a full Ironman triathlon. Conor shares his story to help inspire others. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.
5. Lori Schneider
If MS feels like an upward battle, this woman is conquering the mountain! At 43 years, Lori Schneider was diagnosed with MS. She decided the disease wasn’t going to hold back her wanderlust. This avid mountain climber became the first person with MS to summit Mt. Everest and the first person with MS to climb the highest peaks on each continent (known as the Seven Summits). She is also an advocate for those with neurological disorders or disabilities. To follow her adventure, find her on Facebook or visit her personal website.
6. Holly Stanbrough
Battling MS since 2002 hasn’t stopped Holly Stanbrough from claiming awards in bodybuilding and fitness model competitions. In 2010, Status Fitness Magazine named her one of the Top 100 Sexiest Fitness Models. To learn more about Holly and her fight against MS, you can follow her on Facebook.
7. Stephanie Millward
A titled Paralympic swimmer, Stephanie Millward continued swimming despite her MS diagnosis at age 17. Though she did go through a difficult time after her diagnosis, causing her to leave the pool, she eventually returned to strike gold. She competed in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and then went on to earn four silver medals and one bronze medal in the 2012 London Paralympics. In the most recent Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, she won two gold medals, one silver medal, and two bronze medals. To keep up with Stephanie’s journey, follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
8. Dave Bexfield
Dave Bexfield’s motto is, “Be active, stay fit and keep exploring!” Diagnosed in 2006, Dave has been fighting his disease and not letting it slow him down. Even as soon as the day after his clinical diagnosis, Dave was snowboarding in fresh powder. Though his disease may bring setbacks, it won’t stop his will to stay active. Using his forearm crutches, he says he may need to measure his hikes in meters instead of miles, but he’s still moving — exercising for over an hour each day. He started the website ActiveMSers to help others battling MS. The site gives information on how to stay active and includes tips, tricks, and personal stories. You can follow ActiveMSers and Dave on Facebook and Twitter.
9. Talmadge Boyd
If you think yoga is all about those intricate poses you see on Instagram, think again! Diagnosed with MS in 2010, Talmadge Boyd eventually went from cane to wheelchair. For him, yoga was a way to help adapt to the body changes caused by MS. Talmadge is now a yoga therapist who teaches yoga for people who sit with his program Yoga Adapts to You. On his website he says, “I believe yoga isn’t just about the poses. It’s about taking charge of your mind, body and attitude.” To learn more about Talmadge and Yoga Adapts to You, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.