Exercise and MS

This week Declan Groeger is not a ‘Muscle Mary‘ but believes exercise has helped him maintain a positive attitude and helped to preserve his mental health.

I am passionate about exercise now but that wasn’t always the case. I am a convert and an advocate for the cause. I am not going to use this blog to tell you why you should exercise but believe me when I tell you that you should. I am going to tell you about ‘Exercise, Multiple Sclerosis & Me’. There was a time when exercise was contra-indicated for People with Multiple Sclerosis (PwMS) and that is my excuse for not exercising for so many years after my diagnosis; probably closer to the truth was the fact that I was a bit on the lazy side. The attitude to exercise has changed over the past number of years and these days exercise is actively encouraged in its many different forms. 

I was never sporty except as a spectator. I never carried any extra weight. I didn’t smoke at the time of diagnosis. I drank in moderation and ate relatively healthily. I was never motivated to exercise but in any event I never realised how important exercise, or the lack thereof, was going to be in later life. I had a young family; keeping up with two small children, household chores, gardening and a job were enough exercise, or so I thought.

I exercise regularly now and have done so for more than 11 years. I go to the pool or the gym 2 or 3 times a week and I also have a list of daily home exercises. I don’t want to be a ‘Muscle Mary’ and I definitely won’t be blamed for overworking any of the gym machines! I go to the gym early in the morning when I am at my best; my energy levels start to wane in the afternoon. I love the social interactions in the gym and I feel that I am doing something positive to stem the MS tide. Even though I always feel tired after a gym session it is a good tired and the feel good factor is great. I believe that exercise has also helped me maintain my positive attitude and has helped to preserve my mental health.

I’m sorry I didn’t start exercising earlier but because no one knows the course of the disease or the speed of progression, it is impossible to say whether my efforts would have been any more successful. I believe that exercise is helping me in my battle with MS and belief is a powerful motivator.  I know that I should have started earlier but I also believe that it is never too late to start. 

Exercise is good for you whether you are living with MS or not, but don’t overdo it.

A Chinese proverb says ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now’ and the same can be said for exercise – it is never too late to start.

Looking forward to your comments... Declan

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