There was a time when exercising was considered a taboo for people with multiple sclerosis but researchers are now looking at the effects of exercise in a new light. A recent study conducted in Denmark has found that resistance training may slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) by enhancing brain volume.
Though most studies in the past have been about the safety of exercising with MS, now more are focusing on how exercise positively affects the illness. One of the symptoms of MS is the shrinking of the brain, markedly faster than normal. While there are drugs to counter this effect, the study found that training further minimizes brain shrinkage in patients already receiving medication. Not only did the shrinking reduce, several smaller brain areas actually started to grow in response to training.
Type Of Resistance Training
The resistance training used for the purpose of this research was was quite traditional. It included exercise machines targeting the lower extremities, as well as a few exercises for the upper body. Some of the exercises included leg presses, knee extensions, and hamstring curls. These traditional exercises were used because they are adjustable and more easily controlled.
Research showed that exercise may protect the nervous system and therefore slow the progression of MS. However, the research team is speculating on exactly how and why these exercises seem to help the brain. One possibility could be the increased blood flow to the brain, or because of an increase in brain activity.
A New Study Underway
The study mentioned above had a total of 35 participants, which included control and non-control groups. The positive results have given the researchers cause to proceed with a new study involving 90 participants. It will include further measurements and new mechanisms in order to gain a better understanding of how and why exercise positively affects those with MS. In addition to measuring brain volume, this study will look at cognitive function as a result of exercise.
Other Studies On Exercise
While this study is a first at looking at how exercise specifically affects brain volume, there have been a number of other successful studies looking at how exercise benefits people with MS.
Benefits that have been recorded:
Exercise has been found to significantly improve depression and fatigue.
Aquatic exercise training has been found to improve functional capacity, balance, and perceptions of fatigue in women with MS.
Exercise was found to improve cognitive function and learning.
Home-based aerobics was determined to help with cognition by improving blood flow, and increasing quality of life in people with MS.
Pilates was found to be beneficial for improving walking performance and some functional abilities.
Multiple sclerosis is a long-lasting disease that can affect your brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in your eyes. It is a very difficult journey to make because of the damage it can inflict over the years. As of now, there is no known cure for this disease, which is why researchers are looking at the impact of alternative therapies on MS.
While many of the alternative approaches appear to have a positive impact, please note that patients with MS should not stop or alter their medication without consulting with their doctor. These alternative therapies are meant to help delay the degenerative process so that a person with MS can live a normal life for as long as possible.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.