Management of multiple sclerosis (ME) can be achieved with medication prescribed by your doctor and exercise. Exercise will improve your short term fitness and strength, your balance, stability, coordination, postural alignment and pelvic tilt. As with any new exercise regime, discuss with your doctor beforehand.
1Focus on the FITT approach. FITT refers to: Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. The first FITT principle for your aerobic exercise is:
- F – Gradual progression to at least five times per week.
- I – Individual approach required, an RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) of 3-4 (moderate) will show training effects.
- T – At least 30 minutes (can be 2 x 15 minutes).
- T – Water based activities are good for motor deficits and the rower or cross trainer to improve balance and some weight bearing exercises, including bodyweight exercise such as squats.
2Move on to the second FITT principle. This builds your resistance exercise:
- F – Two to three times per week.
- I – Ten to twelve reps – low to moderate resistance in accordance with your individual limitations. Do not work on strength and endurance on the same days.
- T – One to three sets.
- T – Stability ball, coordination exercises, postural alignment and pelvic tilt improvements – working around your centre of gravity, targeting major muscle groups for less fit individuals.
3Progress to the third FITT principle. This increases your flexibility:
- F – Five to seven days per week.
- I – To the point of mild tension, where appropriate.
- T – Fifteen to 30 seconds for each muscle group.
- T – Chair based, with support – wall or instructor, exercise classes such as yoga, Pilates and tai chi.
4Move to the final FITT principle that focuses on your functionality:
- F – Carry out activities for daily living on cardio exercise rest days.
- I – Make it a part of your daily routine.
- T – Maintain correct posture and gait.
- T – Sit to stand-hip extension, stance phase of gait.