Exercises including walking, water aquatics, and core training can help reduce MS symptoms like fatigue. Regular exercise can also improve your strength and balance, among other benefits.

If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you may feel tired, weak, or low on energy, and exercise may be the last thing on your mind.

However, physical activity has many benefits for people with MS, including improvements in:

  • strength
  • balance
  • muscle stiffness
  • bowel and bladder control
  • spasticity
  • cognitive impairment

The key is to start slowly and build your fitness gradually. Check with your healthcare team before you begin a new exercise routine to ensure you’re not overexerting yourself. You can also see a physical therapist if you want assistance in choosing the right activities for you.

Remember that exercise doesn’t have to take place in a gym. Activities such as gardening and household chores all add up to an increased activity level. Here are some other activities and exercises to help you strengthen your body and manage MS.

Many people with MS have gait disorders, or difficulty walking. Walking regularly gives you a light cardio workout and helps maintain your sense of balance.

Keep up regular walking as long as you can, even if it’s only for a short distance. Bring a friend or family member for security if you have a fear of falling.

Treadmill walking provides another option as you can adjust the speed and intensity, and there are handrails to hold onto.

Not only does stretching help you prepare for and recover from exercise, but it also helps maintain the flexibility that makes movement easier and reduces your chance of injury.

If you have MS, stretching also helps to reduce muscle stiffness. Try stretching areas such as your:

  • calves
  • hip flexors
  • hamstrings

Some forms of exercise have an element of stretching built in, such as wall pushups performed with the heels on the ground. This stretches out both the calves and the hamstrings.

Whether it’s swimming or water aerobics, exercising in the water eliminates the risk of falling. It can also support your walking ability on land.

In addition to preventing falls and providing support, water also reduces the stress on your muscles and joints that activities on dry land can cause.

You can find a low intensity beginner class at some aquatic facilities and progress at your own pace.

Your balance is affected when you have MS, so dedicate some of your exercise time to work on this area.

Try activities such as standing on one leg to practice your balance. Make sure you have a wall or chair to hold if you need support and try closing your eyes to increase the level of challenge.

Even two-legged exercises like plie squats are more difficult with your eyes closed. They can help you be steady on your feet.

Strength training can help prevent muscle weakness and fatigue.

Try activities such as step-ups or squats, using a chair or railing for balance.

You can use light weights for arm exercises such as bicep curls and shoulder presses. If you don’t have hand weights, you can try bodyweight strength exercises such as wall pushups or tricep dips using a chair or counter.

Your core is the foundation of your balance and stability. It’s made up of your abdominal, back, and pelvis muscles.

Effective exercise regimens include a core training component to increase performance and prevent injury in areas like the spine.

Try exercises such as:

  • pelvis raises while lying on your back with your knees bent
  • planks, or modified planks from your knees rather than your feet
  • pushups

Yoga therapy is a safe and effective way to improve:

  • fatigue
  • balance
  • flexibility
  • strength

Some benefits of yoga reported by a 2020 review of research include improvements in:

  • visual and auditory reaction time
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • stamina
  • bladder dysfunction
  • balance

What is the best exercise for a patient with MS?

People with MS benefit from physical activity that includes stretching, balance, core and strength training, and walking. Specific exercise recommendations can depend on your activity and current level of disability.

Can you fight MS with exercise?

Experts recommend regular physical activity for people with MS to help reduce symptoms like fatigue and maintain strength and balance. Exercise may also benefit your physical and mental well-being.

Can MS be treated with exercise?

Exercise can help reduce MS symptoms and lead to improvements in strength, balance, cognitive impairment, spasticity, and mood.

What are the exercise recommendations for MS patients?

Exercise recommendations for people with MS can vary by disability level but typically include 150 minutes per week of exercise, 150 minutes per week of lifestyle physical activity, or both.

Exercise can seem challenging when you’re faced with physical changes brought on by MS.

But building your fitness level can slow the progression of the disease and help you manage your symptoms.

Start slowly with simple activities you feel comfortable with. It’s best to get clearance from your doctor before starting a new exercise program and consult a physical therapist when choosing the best exercises for you.