Love it or loathe it, exercise is something that we should all do more of and people with MS are no exception. According to the MS Society exercise can improve the overall health of people with milder MS. It can help people with more severe MS to stay as mobile and active as possible and improve muscle strength and fitness, helping with mobility or weakness problems.
|For illustration purposes only.|
Obviously if I looked like this then the
gym mirror would be my favourite
place on Earth
|Just about to cycle down Glencoe|
wearing a very flattering hi-viz jacket.
My first MS relapse resulted in paralysis from the waist down for three weeks. When I started to recover I instinctively turned to cycling (albeit on an exercise bike) to help improve the strength in my legs. It was difficult to know whether my legs were weak because of the MS, or whether the weakness was due to the long period of immobility the MS relapse had caused. It was probably a bit of both. After that first attack I thought, perhaps naively, that being fit and strong would mean that future relapses would not affect me so badly. I quickly learned that this is not the case; when a relapse hits there is little you can do in terms of exercise to help. In fact in my experience, exercise is the very last thing I want or should be doing in the midst of an attack. Rest and recuperation is the key here. But as soon as I start to feel better I go outside in the fresh air and try and get moving again – stretching, flexing, walking and when eventually I am strong enough, cycling.
The arrival of Harry the dog has meant that I don’t get out on my bike as much as I used to. Dog walks are now the order of the day but I still love that feeling of getting on bike and heading for the hills. Cycling is good for the soul.
I have to come to realise that exercise is essential if I want to confront this disease head-on, both physically and mentally. Exercise is not a magic bullet for my MS but it will provide me with the best possible foundation to my future recovery - just as long as there are no mirrors…