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Cycling Benefits for MS

By Daryl H. Bryant (535 words)
Posted in Living with MS on February 15, 2013

There are (3) comments permalink

Cycling Benefits for MS

According to numerous medical studies, living a sedentary lifestyle leads to decreased bone density, weakens muscles, hinders effective breathing and may increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular conditions. Research performed at the University of Utah suggests that patients diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, also experience various benefits by engaging in physical activity. When discussing with health care providers or physical therapists possible options for starting an exercise program, MS patients may consider cycling.

MS patients commonly suffer from increased muscle weakness, decreased muscle mass and general fatigue. Cycling strengthens leg muscles and increases muscle mass. The more muscles undergo physical activity, the greater the improvement realized in strength and size. Cycling additionally provides a low impact aerobic workout, which improves cardiovascular and respiratory function. As individuals gain physical strength, fatigue often times minimizes. With increased activity comes increased circulation, which may also decrease spasms and stiffness.

Balance and coordination problems often develop when muscles weaken. The simple repetitive action of moving the legs in a circular motion, guiding the bike using the arms and maintaining an upright position on the bike improves balance and coordination. Stronger arms and legs are not the only muscle groups benefiting from physical activity. When studying MS patients, the University of Utah researchers also discovered that exercise enhances bladder and bowel control.

Not regularly engaging in some type of physical activity also increases the difficulty of maintaining a healthy weight, whether afflicted with MS or not. According to NutriStrategy, a 130-pound person engaged in a seated activity burns 89 calories per hour. This number increases to 118 when leisurely walking and doubles to 236 when engaged in leisurely cycling. Individuals weighing more expel even more calories per hour. Cycling also provides a means of viable transportation from one location to the next.

Cycling may additionally offer mood altering effects. During physical activity, the body releases neurotransmitters and endorphins, which reduce inflammation and physical discomfort. Getting out in the fresh air and sunshine does much to improve one’s psychological outlook after remaining secluded indoors. The sense of accomplishment felt after engaging in a physical activity also tends to enhance general mood.

Before beginning a cycling regimen, health care providers recommend that MS patients perform stretching or some other type of warm-up exercise, which prevents muscle stress and injury. Individuals should also perform similar exercises as a cooling down period after riding. If unaccustomed to cycling, start with a short 10-minute session and gradually increase the amount of time as tolerated.

Heat sensitivity is not an uncommon symptom associated with MS. During cycling or other physical activity, an individual’s body heat may rise and MS symptoms may increase. Go cycling in the morning or during the evening when outdoor temperatures are typically cooler. Stay hydrated by drinking fluids before, during and after cycling. MS patients must not exceed physical limitations and must also remain aware of body signals. If at anytime during a riding session, an individual experiences increased discomfort, illness, overheating or an exacerbation of symptoms, slow the pace or stop cycling and rest.

Comments (3)

Tim I posted on: February 15, 2013

I don't have the balance. I use a recumbent cycle

Charlene posted on: February 15, 2013

I don't have the balance for a bkie. I misss it. I walk in the basement on flat safe surface. I like to imagine I am ridning a bike as I move. Loved the article and think it is grate for those who have use of a bike. Thanks!!

ROBIN posted on: February 17, 2013

I have a recumbent three wheeler, Love it! It enables me to walk my Dogs and be outside, cruising my neighborhood and continuing to be a part of my community. It was costly ($1000), and I make sure I keep my phone with me, although I haven't run into any trouble yet. ( i.e. flat tire, or chain )

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