What Exercises are Safe for People with MS?

What Exercises are Safe for People with MS?

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) it not easy. This condition brings fatigue, weakness, and low energy levels – to name a few. So if you try to stay active and fit, it can be quite challenging for you to do.

But just because exercising is hard for people with MS does not mean they shouldn’t do it. I’ve met a few people diagnosed with MS working out in YMCA.

Actually, regular physical activity improves strength, balance, muscle stiffness in people diagnosed with the condition. It can also help you have better control over bowel and bladder functions, and even delay impairment.

Here are some exercises that can help strengthen your body as you fight the symptoms and challenges brought about by Multiple Sclerosis.


For individuals with gait disorders or difficulty walking, incorporating regular walks into your routine provides a gentle cardio workout while helping maintain balance. Even if you can only manage short distances, continue walking as much as possible.


If you have MS, stretching can effectively combat muscle stiffness. Focus on stretching your calves, hip flexors, and hamstrings. Some exercises, like wall pushups performed with your heels on the ground, naturally incorporate stretching by targeting both the calves and hamstrings.

Water-based Exercise

Exercising in water, whether through swimming or water aerobics, eliminates the risk of falling that may accompany MS. Water provides support and reduces stress on muscles and joints compared to activities on dry land. Start with low-intensity beginner classes and progress at your own pace, ensuring a safe and comfortable experience.

Balance Exercise

With MS, maintaining balance can be challenging. Therefore, allocate some exercise time specifically to work on this aspect. Attempt activities like standing on one leg to practice balance. Have a wall or chair nearby for support, and for an added challenge, try closing your eyes. Even exercises involving both legs, such as plié squats, become more demanding when performed with closed eyes, making them valuable tasks to master in your quest for stability.

Strength Training

Muscle weakness and fatigue are common aspects of MS that can be mitigated through strength training. Engage in activities like step-ups or squats, using a chair or railing for balance. For arm exercises, employ light weights for bicep curls and shoulder presses. In the absence of hand weights, bodyweight exercises like wall pushups or tricep dips using a chair or counter can be effective alternatives.

Core Training

Your core muscles—comprising the abdominals, back, and pelvis—serve as the foundation for balance and stability. Incorporating core exercises into your regimen enhances performance and helps prevent injuries, particularly in areas like the spine. Try exercises such as pelvis raises while lying on your back with your knees bent, as well as planks or modified pushups. If traditional planks and pushups are too challenging, perform modified versions on your knees rather than your feet.


Yoga therapy offers a safe and effective means to alleviate fatigue, improve balance, flexibility, and strength. There are yoga programs available in studios like CorePower Yoga and Yoga Works you can take part in. One study has shown that people with MS who have tried 12 weeks of yoga reported enhanced levels of fatigue, balance, step length, and walking speed. While individual experiences may vary, exploring yoga as an option is certainly worth considering.

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