“Research shows that exercise may improve physical function, such as strength and walking.  It may also aid in the management of multiple other MS-associated conditions, including fatigue, depression, anxiety, osteoporosis, and bowel and bladder function. The MS-related benefits of exercise are so great that if exercise was a medication, it might be the most common therapy for which I write a prescription.”              

                                              Allen Bowling, M.D., PhD.

                                                          InforMS, Spring 2008, Vol 24, #2

                                              Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center


Common questions about exercise and Multiple Sclerosis that physiotherapists are frequently asked.

  • Should persons with MS exercise?
  • Will exercise cause an exacerbation?
  • I am already tired so how can I exercise?

Studies have shown that there are no evidence exercises will cause an exacerbation of your MS and that the benefits include:             

·      Lower fatigue with improved sleep                                                      

·      Decrease Spasticity

·      Decreased strength                                                                       

·      Increase flexibility

·      Improved balance                                                         

·      Improved ability to manage daily activities

·      Help with heart and brain health

There are things to consider before starting an exercise program.

                  Is my MS stable?– It isn’t good to exercise during a relapse.

                  Am I sensitive to heat?  -Some individuals are sensitive to heat which can temporarily increase symptoms by making nerve transmission more difficult.  Exercise can increase your core temperature so you may need to consider how to minimize this — exercising in a cool place, drinking cold water, using a cold compress and wearing loose clothing.

                  I am already tired?– It is normal to be tired after exercise, but this should only last 1-2 hours and regular exercise can lead to increased energy levels. Pacing and appropriate intensity is important.

                  Are you good to start exercising?  – Ask your doctor.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults with MS(www.csep.ca) recommend:

                  30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity 2x/week

                  Strength training for major movement muscles 2x/week

HOWEVER, for those who are inactive you can start with less and gradually work towards this goal.


Physiotherapists can help you determine and overcome barriers to physical activity and help you achieve the guidelines for exercise and health. A custom graded exercise program geared to your abilities can help the most.  A physiotherapist will look at the best aerobic exercise program for you, develop an arm and leg strength and flexibility program and add in some balance training.

Action Potential Rehabilitation has physiotherapists with a strong interest and training to work with you and develop a program to help you achieve your goals and manage your symptoms.

We also run an 8 week Balance and Mobility Classw hich allows you to complete an individualized circuit training program in a small group setting with physiotherapist supervision which may meet your goals.

Further resources about exercising with MS are found at:


                                    MS Getfit Toolkit

                                    Jack Purcell Center – MS Exercise Class


Pat Fejes, Registered Physiotherapist