February 19, 2010

Exercise and MS, or hey, let's help ourselves!

All the noise and chatter about CCSVI and the demands for treatment immediately ignore the things that we can do for ourselves, right now, whether or not you believe in the reflux theory or the autoimmune theory.
But like many things, it involves personal effort, not an automatic cure applied by someone else.
And it isn't easy. And it often hurts. And our MS bodies seem to not want to do it.
It's exercising. Yeah, we all are losing our abilities to do this, we are all less able to exercise whatever muscles we have, but the ones still left can and should be exercised, even if we feel too tired to do so.
Today I was in too much pain to walk earlier this morning, but once I'd thawed a bit, I was able to do some exercise, and I feel better for it. I was sore because I'd overdone the exercise thing the other day, but I'll probably do it again. I feel an overwhelming need to do so.
First, aerobic exercise pushes the blood around my body. This is good for my leetle grey cells, as Poirot would say, and if I do have a blockage, the increased blood flow will inflate those veins as well as a tube. Plus my lungs need a workout, and I like sweating.
Second, the strength and stretching exercises, like Yoga, go a great ways toward stopping my spasms and twitchings. Worth the 30 minutes of wondering about whether I can make it to stop the hours of discomfort from the spasms.
Third, exercise helps reduce inflammation, one of the problems with MS. I figure the less brain inflammation, the better.
But fourth, and most important, my ex-mum-n-law is dying from ALS. She was just diagnosed and is slipping too quickly downwards. Yet, each day SHE exercises. With the scant muscles and air left to her, she exercises. She's 84, and breathing is a big challenge these days.
How can I look her in the eye and say I was too tired to exercise?
I can't. So I'm going to push my weary body, even when sore.
And you know what? I am already seeing a difference - in my thinking, in my emotions (wii punching is very good for that) and my muscle and core strength. If that delays my inability to walk by one day, I'm all for it.

So, maybe, instead of asking for a push-button cure and blaming everyone around for not coming up with it soon enough, why not work on ourselves?
(Can you tell I am totally totally fed up with the venom over CCSVI and the attacks on neurologists? Excuse me, I have to go do some more punching. If nothing else, all the frenzy will keep my upper arms fit.)

Need help? There's an excellent DVD available in Canada called "It's Your Choice". In the US you can get a DVD on yoga for people with MS. Tai Chi and aquacize is available everywhere. Walking helps, stretching helps. Just moving helps. Get hand weights and use them when you're watching TV. Or use canned food as weights. And for heaven's sake, use some of the energy you are wasting on calling names on the webboards and move your body. Even if CCSVI is a significant help, we'll still need to do a lot of work on recovery ourselves.

Exercise has protective effect on brains of multiple sclerosis patients

Friday, February 19, 2010 11:00 IST
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WASHINGTON: Exercise is good for the brains of patients with multiple sclerosis, a new study has found. In the new study, researchers found that highly fit multiple sclerosis patients performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function than similar less-fit patients.

In addition, MRI scans of the patients showed that the fitter MS patients showed less damage in parts of the brain that show deterioration as a result of MS, as well as a greater volume of vital gray matter.

"We found that aerobic fitness has a protective effect on parts of the brain that are most affected by multiple sclerosis," said Ruchika Shaurya Prakash, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University. "As a result, these fitter patients actually show better performance on tasks that measure processing speed."

The study, done with colleagues Robert Motl and Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois and Erin Snook of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, appears online in the journal Brain Research and will be published in a future print edition.

The study involved 21 women diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS.They were compared with 15 age- and education-matched healthy female controls. The study assessed fitness, cognitive function, and structural changes in all participants.

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