Multiple Sclerosis Community
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Avatar universal

MS and Exercise and Weight Loss

Ok here's another challenge that I MUST conquer.

Like about 80% or more people with MS my biggest enemy is chronic fatigue.  So how do I manage to do a regular, effective, workout where I don't have to bail out half way through for a nap and that will actually result in weight-loss. Any advice or resource suggestions?

29 Responses
Avatar universal
I've been told I'm not to exert myself....well, I can't anyway, just trying to walk to the mailbox takes as much effort as when I used to run 5 kilometers before work.

So,  I've put on heaps of weight and I think this makes my mobility worse.  It's a vicious circle.  I went and saw a bariatric surgeon who said that I'm not overweight enough to qualify for a gastric sleeve operation but because of my physical condition he would consider doing the surgery anyway.  I have another appointment to see him at the end of January. I know it will take longer for me to recover and will initially worsen my symptoms but I still desperately want this surgery.  Not only will it be easier to mobilize if I'm lighter but if/when I need someone to help me with things like showering and toiling it will be easier for them too.

If MS is anything like my condition I think getting enough exercise without worsening your symptoms is a very difficult problem.

338416 tn?1420049302
The first thing to do is figure out how many calories you need at minimum, with no exertion.  Plan out your diet so that your intake stays around that amount.  

Next, you should figure out when you're feeling most energetic.  If you're like me, that's around 8:00 pm.  Then it's just a matter of what you want to spend your energy on - cardio or weight lifting.  They say now that you can spend the same amount of time weight lifting as with cardio, and you'll get the same health benefits.  I'm so used to the old-school exercise regimen - 30 minutes of cardio, then lifting weights for 30 - that I feel like I'm slacking off if I don't do that.

Also remember that weak muscles from the disease process won't be strengthened by weight lifting.  I would stay away from the problem areas, and concentrate on the areas that still have strength.  For example, my right leg is really weak, so I don't do leg lifts or calf raises any more.
338416 tn?1420049302
Oh, I should say that if you do get enough energy to go work out, then you can think about a little more calorie intake.  Stick with the whole grains and fruits!
Avatar universal
I do an ms water aerobics class twice a week unless I'm in a flare.
It's hard but since I can't do any kind of physical exercise outside of the water becuase of my obility problems exercising imager works best.

I go to the YMCA.
572651 tn?1531002957
Amy, start out small with tiny amounts of time and gradually work toward more.  Talk to your doctor and ask for a referral to PT to help design a reasonable program for you to do at home on your own.  

Jensequitir is so right too - the only way we really lose weight is if we take in fewer calories.

Please discuss all of this with your GP and maybe even ask for a referral to a nutrition specialist who can help evaluate your food intake.

It isn't easy, but it is worth your while to give it all a try.

1816210 tn?1327358484
My left leg stops completely stops working after about 5 min.  Can this be overcome too?

382218 tn?1341185087
My MS nurse advised me to break up my exercise sessions to 3 or 4 x 10 minute sessions throughout the day vs going hard for 30-40 minutes without a break.  I'm off work right now so this is easier to accomplish.  Apparently there is research that says the benefits are the same either way.  

I mainly just do treadmill but I know I need to get back to some strength training.  We have the equipment so I really have no excuse.  

I've also been talking to an old friend via FB who is now a yoga instructor.  He gave me lots of good suggestions and encouragment to get started on a program.  I've never stuck with it in the past but really need to as I need to work on my balance and flexibility.  Yoga can address so many MS related issues and doesn't cause the overheating problem to the same degree as aerobic exercise, just can't do a hot yoga class.  I actually have a book callesd Yoga & MS or MS & Yoga to get me started though what I really need is a DVD and I'm researching currently researching what might suit me best.  I'll let you know how I make out if you have any interest in trying yoga.

And sadly, jen is right.  The less we move, the fewer calories we need.  To incorporate eercise that burns 500 cals/day plus cutting back on 500 cals/day (if there's room in your diet to scale back that much), that's 1,000/day and a 2 lb weight loss per week.  But even at a normal healthy weight, exercise is still so necessary to keep us moving and to stave off some of the ill effects of our disease, our medications, and aging.
1760800 tn?1406757051
I am battling this demon as well on top of this I am Hypothyroid so I already only take in 1000-1200 calories a day with my limited mobility it is awful -  I am hoping that now I am starting PT I can increase mobility and get moving more - My neuro suggested Yoga and Pilates as it is stress relieving as well as stretching and strengthening.
1394601 tn?1328035908
This problem belongs in the hands of the opening posters doctors...not  what works for other posters.  Some, believe it or not, are unable to do the the type of exercise necessary to burn calories...PERIOD.  To tell the poster to cut calories is dangerous as she may find herself cutting out important nutrition that her body needs.  

Weight lifting?  Not all MSers have the strength to lift weights and it isn't because they are out of shape and not trying to lift the dang things.  Their bodies just are too weak.  Truly, I am sorry the OP brought the subject to the board.  I feel it is placing blame on her for the problem where it should be placed square on the shoulder of MS.

For me exercise to for ONE thing...to keep mobility.  It doesn't burn calories.  Again, cutting calories may not be an option.  That call is for her doctor not us.  

Just my opinion.
338416 tn?1420049302
I have to disagree with you - exercise DOES burn calories.  Don't use exercise to burn the calories that you decided to eat - just don't eat the calories in the first place.

Of course, I'm not advocating that you starve yourself!  That would be silly.  1200 calories a day is the minimum amount of calories that any human being needs.  Those calories should be real calories - fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains.  

Cardio and weight lifting are also up to the individual patient.  I really do advocate lifting weights if you're going to exercise.  Strengthening the torso can help with many back problems.  Exercising the arms helps to hold you up.  Like I said before, exercise the muscles that work.  If you have a problem with that muscle because of neurological damage, then don't bother - exercise won't help it get stronger.  But exercising the muscles around it will help with the weak muscle.  It'll help with spasticity.  I can't begin to talk about the benefits of regular exercise and weight lifting!

Exercise also helps with constipation, a common complaint among MSers.

I'm not going to blame MS for my weight problem.  I blame my weight problem firmly and squarely where it belongs - on my intake.  I eat too many calories for the amount of calories I burn.  Any responsible person who really intends to lose weight needs to look at their intake and think about their activity level, and start there.  

I've managed to lose 20 pounds in two years by the simple principle of eating less than I want.  I have been so busy in the last couple of years that I rarely get to exercise.  I also have problems with leg weakness and bladder control - anything with impact is a problem.  

So yes, it is possible to lose weight just by cutting your calories.  Just do it responsibly.
667078 tn?1316004535
Go slow and be reasonable. I put the goal of 10 pounds a year when I started with the MS. I gradually cut out foods and gradually increased activity. When I was 50 pounds over weight it was a lot harder to lose ten pounds. The next year a bit easier. It helps if your family is on board and junk is just not in the house. People complain when they visit because we have no soda, bread, processed food, etc in the house. Drinking water is a big part of it.

I time my exercise and go home and take a nap because I know I am tired. I also need motivation. For me it is riding the horse which I really enjoy or walking my Service Dog in training Grady. If I do not take Grady to the mall or out to work he gets bored and starts causing mischief at home to tell me so. Even now with me very ill I walked him at the mall today because I know he is frustrated.

I now no longer need to lose weight I just get out to keep moving.

Avatar universal
Thank you for the suggestions. Honestly I haven't had a lot of helpful suggestions from my GP or my Neurologist, but perhaps, I need to ask different or more specific questions.

I did go through PT when I went through my flare last year, but I never thought to ask about a recommendation for an exercise regimen. I think I will try that next time. Thanks for the suggestion.

I was sent to dietitian or a nutritionist (I forget which).  I know what I should and shouldn't eat. I just need to be disciplined enough to stop eating the things that I shouldn't. :)
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