Multiple Sclerosis and Deconditioning - dummies

By Rosalind Kalb, Barbara Giesser, Kathleen Costello

Deconditioning, the loss of physical fitness, is common in anyone with multiple sclerosis (MS) whose mobility has been impaired. People who don’t get enough exercise gradually get out of shape, which means that their muscles are weaker and less toned and their cardiovascular system doesn’t function as efficiently as it did before. (That applies to everyone, not just people with MS.)

If you’re unable to get around as easily as you used to, you may find that physical activity wears you out much more quickly.

In the old days, people with MS were told that they shouldn’t exercise. However, it’s now known that a regular exercise program, geared to your abilities and limitations, can reduce fatigue, increase your cardiovascular fitness, and enhance your mood. A physical therapist or personal trainer who’s familiar with MS can design a program to help you get back in shape.

MS can also make it harder for your lungs to move air in and out. Even early in the disease, a person may find that doing something that used to feel automatic takes more effort. And because breathing is an all-day, every day event, even the slightest change in your breathing ability can contribute to fatigue.

If an assessment shows a reduction in your lung function, a respiratory therapist (usually a PT or nurse) can provide exercises to strengthen the muscles that control breathing. An early baseline evaluation can also help you and your doctor track any changes that might occur later on.