My journey with exercise and multiple sclerosis, update- The picture above is me after cross country skiing a few winters ago. One of the ironic parts of my life is that I hate winter, but two of my favorite sports are cross country skiing and hockey. However, you have to remain active despite your geographical location and living in Northern Alberta the Nordic Ski season is 4-5 months long. It is a classic case of, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” When I started this website back in April, I decided to re-commit myself to the amount and level of exercise I was routinely performing back when I was having my best success with MS 2007-2009. It is not that my health in regard to my MS has declined, but my fitness and body conditioning have. Getting married and having kids can re-shift your focus. Over the last few months with support from my wife, I have been able to get back into a good routine. Here is an update.
If you read the ‘about’ page, you can read how I started my battle back from my last MS attack in 2006 by walking and then running. I love to run for two main reasons:
- I find it meditative. I put my head phones on (when not pushing my daughter) and hit the road and I am allowed to be alone in my thoughts for an hour or more. I can work though ideas, career, and plans. It is my time.
- I find that about 10-15 minutes into my run, once the heart and lungs really start working, my numbness (the primary symptom I’ve had since my last attack) start to subside. Once I’m about 30 minutes in I feel completely normal and usually forget about having MS.
I have been running at least three times per week since April. The distances I run are between 8-10km and are going to start increasing over the next few weeks. One of the changes that I have made is that I have started running with my two year old daughter. Obviously she doesn’t run beside me, but I push her in her stroller (which is designed for running). At first I was unsure on how things were going to work with the stroller, but now I’ve come to like it. She either naps or gets to look around (and say hello to any ducks or dogs we pass) and I get the challenge of pushing an extra 50lbs (kid and stroller combined; she is not a giant) during my run. It slows my pace down by just over a minute, but it is nice to have the company (and added resistance).
On Saturday we did a 8.5km loop in West Edmonton. Thanks to an app on my phone, here is a screen capture summary:
I’m hoping to run in Canmore again this September, but I’m not ready to commit yet until I get a better idea of my progress this summer. 22km’s (distance for a half marathon) is a long way.
Weightlifting and multiple sclerosis
From the ages of about 15-18 I was an avid weightlifter. Since then, I have had periods of as long as a year where I would lift weights consistently which would be followed by years of not setting a foot inside a gym. Since my diagnosis, any resistance training I’ve done has primarily centred around supporting my running rather than adding bulk. I’ve decided to add resistance training back to my regime. I started last Monday night and it was an eye opener.
Returning to the gym for the first time in a while, I was both comforted and annoyed that the environment hasn’t changed much since I was in high school. Sleeveless teenaged boys aimlessly walking around and posing while holding bottles of whatever sports drink is currently en vogue. These young men strategically place themselves within ear shot of any of the very made up young ladies in attendance (how you sweat with that much makeup on I’ll never know). Of course you also have the expected two or three pairings of steroid induced grunting gentlemen who believe the only exercises required are dumbbell curls and the bench press.
Brought back memories.
Speaking of the bench press, I thought this would be a good place to start. I used to be fairly proficient at the bench press and I hoped that muscle memory would help to carry me through. I managed to get through 3 sets of 15 reps of roughly 1/2 the weight I used ‘back in the day’. I decided to cycle in exercises for my lats and triceps. The workout was successful in the sense I completed it, but I will admit I was sore until Saturday. I am realizing MS or not, 16 is different from 26 and even more different than 36. I’m heading back tonight for more.
Exercise and multiple sclerosis
Whether you are recently diagnosed or you’ve been diagnosed for years, exercise can help you in your fight against MS. It can help with balance, fatigue, depression and general well being. I’m not suggesting you strap on a weight belt and start doing dead lifts or run a marathon, but to work within your own abilities and design a program that will help you feel better.
Some research papers on exercise and multiple sclerosis:
- Exercise and Multiple Sclerosis by Lesley J. White and Rudolph H. Dressendorfer
- Exercise and Multiple Sclerosis by Janet A Ponichtere-Mulcare
You can read more exercise related posts by selecting ‘Exercise’ from the ‘Categories’ drop down menu on the right of the page. You can also read the ‘Exercise’ page by clicking ‘Exercise’ in the menu above.
Until next time,