Of course, the reality of this will be different from person to person. If you have MS symptoms so severe that they inhibit your ability to be physically active, that’s also perfectly valid. Working with your treatment team can help you determine the best way to manage symptoms so you can add more movement to your life.
3. Set long-term progressive movement goals.
Bree Alvarez, 38, a high school teacher and Zumba instructor in California, was diagnosed with MS six years ago. Now she is training for her fifth marathon.
“Setting a goal was definitely the first thing on my list,” she says. « Once I decided to do it, I knew it was going to be done. » At her first neurology appointment, she spoke with her doctor about changes to her diet and exercise routine that could help her get back into better physical shape, and she committed to her first half marathon shortly after. By working towards a big goal, she was able to make small changes and build momentum in her workout routines.
Binns has had a similar strategy in the past. She remembers a time in the progression of her illness when her symptoms confined her to a scooter. Even when she temporarily lost some of her mobility, she remained determined to strengthen her legs. To help make this more achievable, she made various lifestyle changes, such as cutting back on foods that may be linked to inflammation, such as dairy, and switching to medications that further controlled her symptoms. She says she was then able to build her endurance week after week in an effort to leave the scooter behind – and it worked. « It’s nothing to me now to walk a mile at night with my husband, » Binns says.
4. Pick an exercise you enjoy.
If you don’t like the exercise you’re doing, you won’t be motivated to continue. This can be especially true when you’re exercising to try to slow the progression of a chronic condition like MS. Binns puts it this way: “When someone tells you what to do and it doesn’t feel right, you tend not to be as willing to do it. But if you figure out what your body really needs and what’s right for it, you’re going to stick with it because it feels good.
that’s why Courtney Platt, 33, continued to dance, her first professional and personal love. Platt (which, yes, is related to Dear Evan Hansen‘s Ben Platt) says the first question she asked her neurologist when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 10 years ago was whether she would be able to keep dancing. Fortunately, this doctor understood that dancing was not only a physical outlet for Courtney, but also a mental and spiritual one. « His response was, ‘You should never stop dancing – it keeps your body, mind and soul strong,' » Platt explains.
« Whether it’s in my living room, on a stage, or in the gym, staying active is one of my top priorities, not only for my physical health, but also for my mental health, » Platt says. A former competitor on So you think you can dancePlatt now teaches vertical climbing fitness classes from home in addition to continuing to tour, perform and perform.