Home >  Blog >  The Importance of Exercise for People Living with MS

The Importance of Exercise for People Living with MS

Posted by SEMI on 3 October 2017
The Importance of Exercise for People Living with MS

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the body's nervous system (brain, spine). The disease attacks the protecting covering of nerves, known as myelin, causing inflammation and damage to the covering.

When damage is minor, nerve impulses will still deliver without much interruption. But when the damage is enough that scar tissue begins to replace the myelin, nerve impulses can be completely blocked.

And while extreme fatigue is a common symptom, it's important for people living with MS to include exercise in their lives. Here's why:

Benefits of Exercise in MS

  • Enhances self care & Activities of Daily Living
  • Reduces risk of other medical conditions
  • Decrease spasticity
  • Improve bowel and bladder problem
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Falls prevention

The Principles of Exercise Prescription

  1. The principle of specificity - To become better at a particular exercise or skill, one must be performing that particular exercise or skill i.e Improvements in walking come about by walking
  2. The principle of adaptation - The body will get used to the demands placed on it
  3. The principle of use/disuse - Use it or loose it
  4. The principle of overload - In order to adapt to exercise and get a training response, the body must be taxed with greater than normal stresses
  5. The principle of progression - Gradually work up your program
  6. The principle of Individual differences - Responses to training and ability to exercise vary person to person

The Components of Fitness

Flexibility: Encourage daily stretching, Maintain range of motion

Strength:  You can strengthen most muscle groups sitting in a chair or wheelchair, using gravity, bands and/or weights, exercises in the pool or functional activities like sit to stands

Balance: Balance is made up of several systems: vision, vestibular/inner ear and sensation. Balance exercise like sitting unsupported, walking, stepping up a curb, reaching into a cupboard

Endurance/Cardio: Repetitive, rhythmic pumping of big movement muscles Aerobic Capacity = how much O2 we use to fuel our system.

Coordination: Motor coordination is when the movements of several parts of the body are combined in a manner that is well timed smooth and efficient with respect to the required activity such as throwing and catching ball, walking, opposite arm and leg movement

What are the barriers for people living with MS?

  • Pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Physical impairments and decreased functional mobility in general
  • Fear of falls and injuries
  • Fatigue and poor sleep
  • Lack of motivation and low mood
  • Lack of confidence to your abilities
  • Lack of knowledge about adequate performance
  • Lack of social support


  • Pick an activity you enjoy
  • Set small realistic goals
  • Give your program time to become a habit
  • Follow an exercise schedule to keep you motivated
  • Several short exercise periods are just as good as a long period
  • Use empowering thoughts/positive self talk: "Yes I can do it"


  1. Exercise to stall progression
  2. Exercise to maintain and improve abilities
  3. Exercise to prevent falls and complications of immobility
  4. Exercise to feel great and to exert some control over your disease

If you're living with MS, SEMI's sports therapists in Toronto can create an exercise program to help manage your MS symptoms. Our modern studios are private and safe, allowing you to focus on your fitness goals.

Book an appointment online today!

Author: SEMI
Tags: Treatment options


Contact Us Today

We can help with your sports medicine or physiotherapy needs.

Tip of the Month

Feeling stiffness in your lower back? Put some heat on it and start walking! Research shows this is the best solution to prevent those lower back muscles from tightening up and the road to a quicker recovery.

Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute

2 Sheppard Avenue E

Suite 601
Toronto, ON
M2N 5Y7

Phone: (416) 223-7364 (SEMI)
Fax: (416) 223-8048
Email: sheppard@semisportmed.com

Monday: 7 – 7
Tuesday: 7 – 7
Wednesday: 7 – 7
Thursday: 7 – 7
Friday: 7 – 5:30
Saturday: Open last Saturday of each month, (times vary) except long weekends, July and August.
Sunday: Closed
(Not open long weekends nor Saturdays in July and August.)

40 St. Clair Avenue W

Suite 410
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2

Phone: (416) 927-7364 (SEMI)
Fax: (647) 930-9536
Email: stclair@semisportmed.com
Monday: 7 – 7
Tuesday: 7 – 3
Wednesday: 7 – 3
Thursday: 7 – 7
Friday: 7 – 3
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

8150 Yonge Street, Suite 1
Thornhill, ON
L4J 1W5

Phone: (289) 459-7364
Fax: (905) 731-3336
Email: thornhill@semisportmed.com
Monday: 11 – 7
Tuesday: 9 – 5
Wednesday: 11 – 7
Thursday: 11 – 6
Friday: 9 – 2
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed


The Importance of Exercise for People Living with MS

Oct 03 2017
Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the body's nervous system (brain,...

What You Need to Know About Barbell Squats

Sep 20 2017
Many strength and conditioning coaches will tell you that a weightlifting routine is pointless...

Back to the Basics - The Importance of 'Rolling Over'

Sep 11 2017
As a physiotherapist, one of the questions that my patients ask me frequently is, 'why do ...

Five Athletes with Strange Diets

Aug 15 2017
Nutrition for athletes is usually catered towards their specific sport. What athletes eat shou...


Prevention is the best medicine. Stick to these five principles and you'll build muscle pain-free for life.https://t.co/hM4D1z4xQY
6 days ago
What's a pumpkin's favourite sport? Squash! ...We hope your holiday is more enjoyable than that pun. Happy Than… https://t.co/SOvUHE84g1
10 days ago
Bookmark SiteTell a FriendPrint