Abarcans stand with the nearly 2.3 million people worldwide living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) every day, almost one million of which live right here in the United States. We strongly believe that bringing awareness to MS is necessary for providing the steps toward a better way of managing the condition and improving the patients’ quality of life.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Nerves are the body’s best friend. We rely on them to send vital messages between the brain and the rest of the body as tiny electrical signals, but in a person with MS, those messages don’t get where they need to go.
According to the National MS Society, MS is an autoimmune disease that damages the protective lining of nerves, ‘disrupting the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.’ Symptoms vary from person to person and, in many cases, may appear to be invisible, though they are often disabling. People with MS may have trouble walking and may experience numbness or tingling in their hands or feet. They may also have difficulty seeing and can experience memory loss.
What causes Multiple Sclerosis?
The cause of the condition is still unknown, though scientists believe that a combination of environmental and genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing MS. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. There is no cure for MS, though several medications can help control the varying symptoms.
Exercise and Physical Activity that can benefit people with Multiple Sclerosis
Exercise and physical activity are not only vital to our general health and wellbeing but are extremely helpful in managing many MS symptoms. Multiple studies of aerobic exercise programs for people living with MS show some of the benefits to be improvements in:
- cardiovascular fitness
- bladder and bowel function
- cognitive function
- bone density
Keep in mind that an exercise program should fit your physical abilities and may need to be adjusted over time. A fitness professional knowledgeable about MS can also help design an individualized exercise program.
Water provides unique qualities that can provide remarkable benefits to people with MS, including improving flexibility and stretching tight muscles. When exercising in water, people with MS will find that they can move in ways they may not normally be able to on land, while also keeping their body temperature cool. It is crucial to know that people with MS should not be in pools that exceed 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Consult with a medical professional before starting a new routine, but below are some tips for a successful workout:
- Exercise in a cool room and if outside, exercise at cooler times during the day
- Stay hydrated-cold water will help keep your body temperature low
- Start low and go slow
- Prioritize safety to reduce the risk of injury
- Remember to stretch afterward
From giving financially to influencing public policy, everyone can make a difference. This month, join Abarcans to bring awareness to MS and help us work toward better care and a cure for this disease.
This blog was written by Ana Rivera, Clinical Programs Manager at Abarca Health.