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Exercise can help people with MS enjoy a better quality of life

April 29, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times
  • Swimming and aquatic exercise can be good workouts for people with multiple sclerosis
Swimming and aquatic exercise can be good workouts for people with multiple… (Robert Lachman / Los Angeles…)

Exercise has health benefits for people with multiple sclerosis and can improve their quality of life. Learn the hows and whys of exercise and MS in a live Web chat on May 2 at 11 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. EDT). Chat guest Dr. Barbara Giesser, clinical professor of neurology at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine and medical director of the Marilyn Hilton MS Achievement Center at UCLA will be on hand to take questions and offer resources for those with MS.

We asked Dr. Giesser what benefits a fitness regimen can offer people who have MS.

"People can benefit from exercise in both general and specific ways," she said. "Just like anyone, people with MS can derive benefit from exercise in terms of increased fitness and endurance, better cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, and improved mood. Specific MS symptoms that may be improved with exercise include fatigue, spasticity and genitourinary (reproductive and urinary system organs) dysfunction. A study of exercise in people with MS showed that when they did a fairly vigorous aerobic exercise workout on a stationary bicycle three times a week, they not only decreased their serum lipids and increased aerobic capacity, but their mood was also improved and they socialized more, resulting in better quality of life. Some studies have reported that certain exercise regimens may improve muscle strength and walking speed.

"Fatigue is the most common symptom of MS and can prevent people with MS from performing many daily activities," she added, "but a regular exercise regimen is often very beneficial in improving this fatigue."

Do you have a question for Dr. Giesser? Email jeannine.stein@latimes.com and join the chat at latimes.com/health to see the answer!

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