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Exercise and MS


Thursday April 16 2015 11:02 AM

As a follow on to my last blog about eating healthier, I decided I would make more of an effort to increase my fitness and mobility, which has taken a back seat for a long time!

To start, let’s call a spade a spade... I am lazy... I have never been a fan of exercise, apart from swimming. So, when  I see others go for a run or cycle, my first thought isn’t “oh I wish I could do that”. I can’t say that MS has stopped me from doing sports I love, I was never that way inclined anyway.

Exercise can be very difficult for people with MS, as an increase of exertion can result in a temporary flare up of symptoms, which in turn makes us feel a bit rubbish (“a bit rubbish” isn’t the term I usually use, but my mammy might read this).  

In the past, it was thought that exercise was actually bad for people with MS, and it should be avoided. This theory isn’t supported nowadays, and in general exercise is encouraged. Of course, people should follow the advice of their doctors and neurology team, and listen to what their own body is telling them.

I want to improve my health and fitness overall, so I made a decision to walk more and to try to increase my activity levels. I have symptoms in my legs a lot, my balance can be off. I can feel sore and achy first thing in the morning, or if I’ve been sitting at work all day. I was surprised to figure out that a walk sometimes helps to ease my legs. This was helped by the addition of Bob - the - dog to the household, who is very excited by a stroll at lunchtime or after work, and isn’t too bothered by a numb leg getting in his way.

I am better off walking by myself (and Bob, of course) as my pace can vary greatly from day to day. It would be frustrating for both me and my friends if I could keep up with them one day, and was lagging behind the next.  I have to be sensible about it. Some days I am able to walk a lot further than others, so I have to recognise when to stop. 

It used to annoy me when I got tired and couldn’t go as far as I wanted to, which put me off trying in the first place. I had to re-evaluate my expectations. I now know that pushing myself too far has a negative effect on my energy levels, but most days I can manage to have a decent walk before I get to that point. Being a lazy article doesn’t help, any sign of a twinge and I would retire to the sofa! It has taken a while to change that attitude. 

I think the main thing I’ve learned is not to put too much pressure on myself- if I don’t manage to get out and about today, it’s not that big a deal, I can try again tomorrow.

Thanks for reading


Author: Niamh McCarron

Tags: ms, exercise, fitness, health, symptoms



Thursday April 16 2015 11:51

Loved it Niamh you described me perfectly.

Niamh McCarron

Thursday April 16 2015 12:29

Thanks Declan, I think my favourite sport will always be channel-surfing :-)

Helen Hayes

Thursday April 16 2015 13:27

Hi Niamh, thank you for that blog, you've just made me feel normal on a" rubbish day"! I started jogging in Jan and sometimes I do great and sometimes I can just stroll but all times my dog is happy at my pace. Thanks again, your blog was perfect! :-D

Niamh McCarron

Thursday April 16 2015 14:31

Hi Helen, thanks for your kind words.

Jogging- wow! That's hard work, well done for sticking at it. I've never been good at running... *flash back to school PE class* ...but I have started swimming again since I wrote this piece.

Some days I can just about manage to float, but it gets me out of the house.

Keep well

Joan Jordan

Thursday April 16 2015 15:46

Great blog Niamh. My version of Bob is a stroll around the shops!

Niamh McCarron

Friday April 17 2015 14:05

Thanks Joan. If there were any shops here, I'd do the same! I used to love browsing when I lived in Dublin, but now I find I don't have the energy for it. Saves me a fortune though :-)


Tuesday April 21 2015 10:34

Great post, Niamh. You could be my twin sister in regards to this, it's hard to get going but once you do, you realise it should be done more often. Only difference is that I don't have a Bob to take for a walk, something I wished I had :)) Keep up the walks, hope to hear how you're doing in a while to see if it has paid off. Take care!

Niamh McCarron

Thursday April 23 2015 09:22

Thanks Willeke, I hope you are keeping well x

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