I have a client who has MS, and I was wondering if you had any updated information about this population and exercise.
Not only will exercise assist with improving overall health in clients who have MS, it will also assist with increasing one’s energy, manage spasticity, assist with bladder control and overall self confidence. Cardiovascular training will also help to increase stamina.
Other considerations for your clients who have been diagnosed with MS include:
- Heart rate and blood pressure must be monitored throughout the exercise program, and intensity might need to be decreased. This can be due to decreased blood pressure in response to exercise.
- Heat Sensitivity: This can include fatigue, loss of balance and visual changes. Create a cool environment with fans and ensure the participant takes sips of water to stay hydrated. If exercising outdoors, try early morning or evening hours due to overheating.
- Use movements that are big for range of motion and movement. Some may need to avoid bouncy jerky movements due to bladder control.
- Spasticity/Tremors: Choose supportive exercise modalities such as upright or recumbent bicycle instead of the treadmill. When strength training, focus on areas of muscle imbalance.
- Balance and Coordination: As problems with balance and coordination can lead to dangerous falls, choose exercises providing maximum support.
- Medication: Ask what types of medication they are on, as some meds may affect energy levels and muscle coordinator and strength.
- Set an exercise pace that feels good to you. Rate your level of exertion by the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale (range of 6 to 20 where 6 is very, very light, and 20 is very, very hard). A zone of 12 to 14 is a good target. Vary cardiovascular training to prevent boredom and avoid muscle imbalance by using a variety of machines (appropriate to level of ability).
- General cardiovascular exercise can be done daily and is recommended at least three to four days per week for 20 to 60 minutes per session.