How People With MS Benefit From Weight Training

Too Much Straining Isn't Good For People With MS   (www.hold-on.com)
Too Much Straining Isn't Good For People With MS (www.hold-on.com)

Although it may seem contrary to MS symptoms such as weakness and fatigue, proper weight training techniques can actually be of great assistance to people with MS. Personally, I took advantage of this specific type of exercise for as long as my MS would allow. I wanted to preserve my muscle strength for as long as possible and realized after researching MS and exercise, that weight training would be a great way to achieve my goal.

My Weight Training History

My experience with weight training goes back to my high school years, where I was first introduced to the equipment. The weight-training room was used primarily by the wrestling and football teams, but there were small gym classes of both boys and girls who were allowed to use the room for a semester at a time.

I fell in love with it right from the start. After learning how to properly use the machines, I was surprised to learn I was considered strong for a girl. Not that it mattered to me, because strong or weak, I enjoyed lifting weights and would have continued either way.

I credit that class with my lifetime enjoyment of weight-lifting and even though I have had to curtail the type of exercises and training I do, according to what the MS allows, I still lift what I can, when I can, in order to preserve muscle tone and strength.

This is the type of home set-up we have.(cgi.ebay.com.uk)
This is the type of home set-up we have.(cgi.ebay.com.uk)

Lifting Weights at Home

It became necessary to develop a home regiment as the fatigue from MS increased and I found myself with less and less energy to travel out to a gym.

My husband has lifted weights his entire life and so it wasn’t difficult for him to stake out an area sporting goods store until they offered him a great deal on a home gym that was a demo-model the store was about to upgrade.

With the understanding that he would have to dismantle the gym himself as well as transport it home, he happily agreed to purchase the home gym for a ridiculously low amount of money.

He asked a friend to help him transport all the weights and other paraphelnia in our friends van and the next thing I knew there were voices and the sound of metal weights entering our house and going down in our basement.

 At the time I was sick in bed with a bad flare-up. This would have been early on when my MS attacks were very bad and totally debilitating. I would later learn this was the primary reason my dear husband purchased the home gym. He wanted to make sure that I would have access to exercise equipment as soon as I recovered sufficiently.

I remember wondering what was going on in the basement, but being so sick; my curiosity was mild at best. The next day I realized my husband had spent hours putting the 15-station gym together, from memory, just in case I felt better and wanted to use it. Needless to say, with such a loving act in mind, I used the gym as soon as I was able to safely do so.

I have found a close approximation of how our home gym looks. You can see there are plenty of ways to get a work-out using many different muscle groups.

At my healthiest I would use at least one 40 1b weight and work out lifting 8 times in reps of 3. As my strength began to wane, I dropped down to 1-20 lb weight 8 X’s in reps of 3.

These days, I rarely use the weight stations, relying more on our stationary bike and our treadmill. I miss the weightlifting, but have adjusted to just being glad to do what I can, however small.

Using Hand Weights

Anyone can make the adjustment to hand weights. In fact, it isn’t even necessary to purchase the type of hand weights I purchased as pictured here.

A heavy book or a young child provides weight training as well. (Of course, the ability to lift a child over your head or out to your sides doesn’t mean you should necessarily do so, given child safety concerns.)

But if you like the convenience of hand weights of varying sizes usually from 1 pound up to 5 or 10 pounds, these hand weight towers are very inexpensive.

 

How Much Is Too Much?

When it comes to any type of exercise, one good rule to follow is know your limits. I don’t mean the limit you would like to reach I mean the actual limit your body can handle.

Personally, I apply the following guidelines to any exercising I participate in.

  • Eat first. Since energy is already in short supply when dealing with MS, putting something in your stomach can prolong your exercising time since it provides needed energy.
  • Drink plenty of water. Overheating is a common problem for me, just as it is for many people with MS. Keeping hydrated is essential.
  • Less is more. As much as this one annoys me, I have learned to stick to this guideline like it is a law.

Most people with MS consider 10 minutes of exercise as almost a waste of time. In truth however, 10 minutes might be all that your body can handle. Have you ever exercised and afterward had to immediately take a nap or were unable to move or walk?

In actuality you probably exercised for too long at one stretch. In determining the correct amount of time to exercise, the goal is to exercise and still be able to function afterward.

 If you find you are totally wiped after 30 minutes, cut your exercising down to 20 minutes and see how you feel then.

I find 10-20 minutes is my absolute limit, any more, I am too tired to recover in an hour or so. Instead, I am incapacitated the rest of the day.

Enjoy the Benefits

Whether you can put in a full exercise session of 30 minutes, 3 times a week or can only do 10 minutes once a week. Be happy when you can exercise at all.

Having had times when I have been too tired to lift my head off of my pillow. I greatly appreciate any exercise I am able to do.

Be it walking on my treadmill, house cleaning, carrying laundry up and down the stairs, I consider it all part of my physical training and am happy when I am able to do anything of a physical nature.

Swimming is a great way for people with MS to exercise. I am hoping to accompany my husband to a gym where swimming is available, now that my fatigue is not as great. I look forward to the work out it will provide and I know my body will love the feeling of physical exertion once again.

So if you haven't tried light weights as part of your exercise routine and your MS still allows it, I highly recommend doing so. Muscle tone and strength are so important to daily functioning, preserve it for as long as possible by establishing a routine that will hopefully last for years, as it did for me.

More by this Author


Comments 20 comments

Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 5 years ago from Delaware Author

Hi Mark! From what you have described it sounds like your friend's wife might be suffering from MS fatigue (which is very real and very debilitating) and/or depression. I know what it is like to wonder if I could get out of my home if it were to catch fire. I have been just that exhausted. She could discuss this with her MS doctor and if there are prescriptions that may help her, the doctor will advise accordingly. I have tried many different drugs and have found that some work, others do not. It can get quite frustrating. I hope she can identify the source of her fatigue and find some help. It is terrible to be too tired to move, I know from personal experience that it is important to keep hope alive by continuing to do everything possible to try to solve the problem. It is very satisfying when I find something that gives me a break from the fatigue, I hope she gets to experience that too!

Oh and an easy "fix" could be increasing her vitamin D level, most MSers are deficient - I am! Try to get her out in the sun and see if it helps any.


mark 5 years ago

hi, my friends wife has ms and i was just wondering..she does nothing all day everyday (except watch tv).ive been living with him for 2 monthes now and she gets up to goto the bathroom and to play on her computer that's it.i tell her the reason she cant walk good is because her muscles are atrophied .IS THIS NORMAL FOR PEOPLE WITH MS? shes 40 yrs old and has been doing this for years...she never has a good day...she said if the house was on fire she wouldn't be able to move....ive seen her get up and do things when its fun for her...she doesn't pick up after herself and doesn't even make food for herself ...(she asks my friend to do EVERYTHING!!!!frankly im fed up i cant watch it anymore she isn't living with ms she is dying with ms..please help ps. she sits on the couch 20 hours out of the day ...i see no physical symptoms .. like shaking or anything like that ..my friend is her slave and i dont think shes as bad as she says she is ...


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 5 years ago from Delaware Author

Thank you schoolmarm, I hope your brother-in-law finds it helpful.


schoolmarm profile image

schoolmarm 5 years ago from Florida

Wonderful hub. I am going to send this to my brother in law that has MS. I hope it will help him like it did for you.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Thank you Ladybird33, yes there are so many different ways to do strength training and many physical therapists are experienced with helping people with MS, as I found out years back. I appreciate your comment, thanks for stopping by.


Ladybird33 profile image

Ladybird33 6 years ago from Georgia USA

I think this is a great hub for all. I do strength training and believe everyone at any age with any issue should try it, with supervision (if needed) it will only make you stronger. Love your hub, keep it up!


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

You are very welcome lawbaron. I hope the tips come in handy for your cousin.


lawbaron profile image

lawbaron 6 years ago from Connecticut

Great hub Jen. I passed this along to my cousin who suffers from MS. Thank you.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Hi ya Paradise, glad you like the hub! (-;


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Very good hub, to encourage people not to give in too much to a major illness...You do such good work, friend Jen.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

GarnetBird, seems as if we will be able to encourage each other then. Way cool! lol Thanks for your comment.


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 6 years ago from Northern California

NICE job-I have some disabilities and I am back in the gym, pushing pelvic weights (I have a broken disk)How awesome that you work-out. I'm encouraged to keep working out, also.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Thanks Russ. I guess I will give resistance belts a try too. I have used them, just not on a regular basis. Yes I am having trouble with hand tremors these days, especially after exertion, I can't blame exercise though, don't know what it is, as is typical with MS I suppose. Have a great day, always good hearing from you.


Rascal Russ Miles profile image

Rascal Russ Miles 6 years ago from Show Low, AZ USA

Another Great Hub Jen... Especially for us MSers... I too use light weights at home and resistance bells in water. Going to aerobatics today but must cut back in overdoing the resistance bells. My right arm feels like tennis elbow.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Thanks so much AARON99 I appreciate your comment and taking the time to read my hubs.


AARON99 6 years ago

Well done Jen, for giving such a wonderful hub on benefits from wight training. You pointed out some unknown facts about weight training. All the very best. Enjoy.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

Not much older my friend, very soon I will be hitting the big 50 myself. Congrats on the big weight loss. I will be so tickled when I lose my first 10 lbs, could you imagine my joy if I dropped 30! lol Keep up the good work, I look forward to more physical activity this year myself. Better late than never, right?


fishtiger58 profile image

fishtiger58 6 years ago from Momence, Illinois

I am older than you I'm sure Jen I am almost 52 but when I turned 50 I decided it was time to get healthy. 30 pounds later I am in the best shape of my life. Of course I don't have MS but I do 10 mins of cardio, 20 mins of weight training and I walk between 4 to 6 miles weather permitting. Exercise is good for the mind and the body. Just wish I would have done this much earlier in life. Have a great day Jen.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware Author

If you've been carrying shopping bags, you've definitely been weight-lifting ethel. It is amazing how such activities keep our muscles toned. I realized it when I could no longer do those types of activities. Good thing I did it all while my health was better. Bone mass is more and more important these days.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

I've never tried weight training as such. I have carried mountains of shopping over the years those as we have never had a car. Guess this will help build bone mass.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working