Strength Training for Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. It involves the destruction and inflammation of the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibres. According to a recent survey, there were estimated to be 23,700 Australians with MS and of these, 11,400 (48%) had a profound or severe core-activity limitation. Roughly three times as many women have MS as men.


There are four different types of MS categorised by the way the disease affects the body over time. Risk factors include gender, ethnicity, poor diet, age, genetics and low sunlight exposure. The abnormality in neural connections can impair movement and function.

If not well managed there can be drastic alterations to lifestyle activities such as work, friendships and activities of daily living. Sufferers are also predisposed to an increased likelihood of developing secondary conditions such as depression, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sarcopenia, osteoporosis, epilepsy and more. 

Exercise & MS

MS cannot be cured but exercise can be prescribed to help prevent further deterioration. Exercise is a safe treatment for MS patients with research demonstrating positive improvements to strength, mobility, pain, psychosocial functioning, sleep, aerobic capacity, quality of life and managing spasticity and fatigue levels.

As MS is very unpredictable each individual must be managed differently, exercise demands/loading parameters must be kept at appropriate levels at all times. This places extreme importance on supervised sessions from an expert for the best health outcomes. 

MS sufferers should complete a minimum of 2-3 exercise sessions per week for approximately 20-30 minutes total. Exercise should include a combination of strength, cardio, flexibility and balance training. It should be conducted in a temperature regulated room to avoid overheating which can lead to blockages of electrical nerve conduction. If individuals find they have more energy during a specific part of the day, take advantage of that to increase program efficiency.

If you or someone you know has multiple sclerosis, visit your Exercise Physiologist at Kieser today for a suitable tailored exercise program or ask about joining our group balance classes which are available at a majority of Kieser facilities. 

Article written and sourced by Stephen Harvey, Exercise Physiologist at Kieser Caulfield and Nicole Shue, Exercise Physiologist at Kieser Malvern

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