Multiple Sclerosis


MS can affect your movement. Let’s actively change that.

Exercise has mental and physical health benefits for everyone. As well as improving overall fitness, exercise can improve muscle strength, balance, and tiredness, and can generally make you feel better. 

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I try to exercise every day. I think this is important for pretty much everyone – it helps to keep my muscles strong, but also gets my mind off things and relaxes me.


Living with MS since 2003

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Prior to my MS diagnosis, I didn’t follow any specific exercise regime. I occasionally went to the gym or ran outside. Ironically, being diagnosed with MS made me take a long hard look at my physical fitness and made me want to take control and get stronger. Exercise empowered me. It became my passion and spawned my mantra, ‘I have MS, but it doesn’t have me!’ Now 8 years after my diagnosis, I’m still practicing Pilates, still doing water aerobics, and have now introduced cycling and hiking into my routine. I know my limitations, I listen to my body, I live life, and I have fun.


Living with MS since 2006

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Each time I exercise, I feel like it’s really helping me with my MS! When I hit the gym and I reach a new personal record, it feels like I’m taking back control and winning the fight for another day.


Living with MS since 2014

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Defy MS and be more active…

  • Exercise has also been shown to improve balance in people with MS – read our page on balance exercises to get you started on having a more balanced life
  • Read our MS Exercise Programme page to learn more about how focusing on endurance, resistance, and aerobic exercises can help you

With MS, exercising can be one of the last things you want to do. You might even think exercising will make your MS worse. The truth is that physical activity and aerobic exercise are proven to help improve MS symptoms, including muscle spasms, muscle weakness, fatiguebalance, and general well-being. 

How did exercising help Mike’s symptoms?

Mike was in the gym when he noticed he had no control over the right side of his body. He later found out that he had MS and this was his first relapse. 

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When I had my first relapse, I did not know that it was MS. So, I tried to continue exercising with no control over the right half of my body – it’s quite funny, looking back!


Living with MS since 2014

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With the help of his neurologist to find a suitable exercise plan, and some effort in the gym, he was able to improve his symptoms and get back to the level of fitness he was at before his relapse.

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It takes hard work to get good results – especially if you’ve just had a relapse – but remember not to give up and that all the hard work is worth it!


Living with MS since 2014

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Physical therapy includes exercise, rehabilitation, and physiotherapy. These are all important parts of managing your MS. It can be tailored to your individual needs, whether you are newly diagnosed, have just had a relapse, or have been living with MS for some time. 

Physical therapy can include exercise programs and training to help improve your balance and mobility. It can also help you find better ways to perform everyday tasks. 

Physical therapy might include: 

  • Stretching exercises
  • Range-of-motion and strengthening exercise
  • Gait training
  • Training on how to use mobility aids and other assistive devices 

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I discovered Pilates about a year into my diagnosis and it changed everything for me. I worked one-on-one with a physiotherapist, who was also a trained Pilates instructor. The new me began to emerge and I was so proud of what I was accomplishing. I didn’t worry about the things I couldn’t do because of my illness, instead we focused on all of the things I could do.


Living with MS since 2006

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Before you start physical therapy, talk to your healthcare team to ensure the exercises and advice are tailored to suit your specific needs.

As well as physical therapy, there are lots of other rehabilitation strategies, like speech therapy and occupational therapy, to help you feel and function at your best. 

You can learn more about rehabilitation at these websites:

  • The National MS Society provides an overview of rehabilitation types here  
  • The MS Society of Canada has a page on rehabilitation in MS here

If you are experiencing issues with movement or balance, speak to your healthcare team about your MS recovery. Together, you can create a personalized recovery plan to help you move forward in the right direction.

Before you start exercising or increasing your levels of activity, talk to your healthcare team to ensure your exercise program is right for you. They will advise you on the types of exercises most suited to you based on your lifestyle, goals, and symptoms. 

Remember these tips for safe and effective exercise:

  • Find a gym with a setup suitable to your needs and consider telling staff you have MS, so they can provide extra help if needed 
  • Acknowledge your physical limitations and don’t overexert yourself
  • Always warm up first and take it slow
  • Rest between exercises 
  • Choose an area with enough space to safely exercise during your workouts – remove any tripping hazards, like rugs!
  • Try to avoid getting too hot, as, in some cases, this can bring on symptoms 

Although exercise is safe and encouraged for most people with MS, in some cases, an increase in body temperature may trigger a temporary worsening of symptoms. This is just something to be aware of, and it certainly shouldn’t stop you from getting fit and active. Below are some tips on how to keep cool when exercising with MS: 

  • Exercise in an air-conditioned room 
  • Wear lightweight, breathable clothing – you could even try a cooling vest
  • Regularly drink cold drinks 
  • Go for a swim in a cool pool or take a cold shower (it may be a good idea to let staff at the pool know about your MS, for safety and insurance purposes and in case you might need help or assistance while swimming) 
  • If exercising outside, do so in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler, or try to stay in the shade

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I struggle with heat and feel too hot nearly all the time. This means I’m often found in shorts, even in winter! On a practical level, I find that cold showers can help as well as chilled drinks.


Living with MS since 2003

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I find it’s better to wear layers of clothes so that you can add or remove layers if you are too hot or cold. In summer, I find this especially important.


Living with MS since 2016

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Just start
Get your brain involved
Find ways to be active in daily life
Try a new sport (and socialise too!)

We caught up with Mike to find out about his experiences with exercise and how it helped him to take more control of his life.

  1. Just start! 
    My first tip for getting into exercise is to just start. Your first session might not be the best, but from my experience, once you start to see results and feel the energy you get from exercising, you just can't stop!

  2. Get your brain involved 
    As well as going to the gym, I also like to try exercises that train my brain. My neurologist recommended some special workouts for me to train the left-hand side of my brain, like doing things with my left hand for a few hours each day (I´m right-handed so this is a challenge).

  3. Find ways to be active in daily life
    You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise your body. I also like the everyday challenge of being active – if there’s a choice between taking an elevator or stairs, I take the stairs. It keeps me fit and gives me a sense of achievement.

    4. Try a new sport (and socialise too!)
    I play basketball with my friends in the summer, which is fun because it’s not just exercise, it’s also a way to socialise and provides a sense of community.
Why not use some of Mike’s tips and find a way to get active that works for you?

MS can affect your life. But it doesn’t have to affect your lifestyle.

A healthy lifestyle is important, especially with MS. Find out if you can improve yours here.

MS can change your life. But it doesn’t have to define it.

MS doesn’t have to stop you doing what you love. In these articles you’ll find information on how to continue living your way.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Exercises for Balance & Exercise Plans | MS Resistance


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Healthy Diet and Lifestyle | MS Resistance

Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and work | MS Resistance


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and relationships | MS Resistance


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Mental Health: Anxiety, Depression | MS Resistance

Mental Health

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Support Groups | MS Resistance

MS Support Groups


More articles on exercising with MS below.

Yes, you can exercise with MS. And we have the info on how to get into shape, stay fit, or just be more active.

Balance Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) | MS Resistance


Exercise Plans for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) | MS Resistance

Programs and Plans