Jan and her dogs

How exercising helps me manage my MS

I was diagnosed with MS six years ago. For a long time before that I’d been going to my GP complaining of various symptoms.

My determination to stay active

In 2012 I finally got referred to a neurologist. After having some MRI scans and a lumbar puncture I was told that I had MS. It was only when I got home from the neurology appointment and started researching online that I understood what MS was. I was stunned.

I’d always been so fit and all I could think was that I was going to end up in a wheelchair.

But I was determined to continue being active. I carried on horse-riding every week and walking my dogs regularly. But I stopped doing aerobics and going to my local pilates group.

As time went on, my symptoms progressed. My right leg became a problem and then my right arm stopped working.

Discovering MS Active Together

One morning my husband was flicking through MS Matters, and he saw an advert for MS Active Together. That was how I found out about the MS Society's exercise videos. It made me realise that there are people with MS doing things I could be doing.

I now use the videos every week. I do the simple workouts for MS three times a week, the seated Pilates exercises once a week, and I use the symptoms videos for my core. I also go to the gym regularly to workout.

The benefits of exercise

Exercising has helped me in lots of ways. Once I started working out using the exercise videos, I noticed almost immediately that I had more control of my upper body. I can now use heavier weights and I feel much stronger.

It’s also given me more energy. Before, if I sat still in the afternoon I’d fall asleep within minutes, but that doesn’t happen anymore. I feel more motivated to get out and about, even if it’s in the scooter.

Having MS and not being able to do things frustrates me, I can’t say it doesn’t. But when I’m exercising it stops me feeling despondent. It improves my mood and makes me focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t.

I know I’ll never get my old life back. But I won’t let MS stop me from doing the things I want to do.