Only in recent years has the medical community begun to embrace exercise for people with multiple sclerosis. A turning point came in 1996 with the publication of a landmark study in the Annals of Neurology.
The study of MS patients by University of Utah researcher Jack Petajan found that those who engaged in regular aerobic exercise improved their strength and stamina without having setbacks in their illnesses. Petajan found that exercise also helped those who had fatigue or depression.
"The thing about MS is that you want to keep yourself in good shape," says Lynette Coleman, of the Greater Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. "It reflects society in general--we've learned so much about the benefits of exercise, and that's changing our feelings about chronic disease."