Yoga and Pilates may help ease some symptoms of multiple sclerosis

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Multiple sclerosis symptoms can take a toll, but staying on a regular exercise regimen may help. Join a live Web chat on the benefits of exercise for people with MS on May 2 at 11 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. EDT). Our chat guest, Dr. Barbara Giesser, clinical professor of neurology at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine and medical director of the Marilyn Hilton MS Achievement Center at UCLA, will be on hand to take questions on fitness and MS. Giesser has been treating patients with MS since 1982.

We asked her if certain types of exercises, such as yoga or aquatics, are generally better for people with MS.

“Many people with MS report benefits from yoga,” she said, “including increased flexibility and decreased spasticity, and decreased fatigue. Swimming in a cool (not more than 85 degrees) pool is excellent exercise and provides an aerobic workout without someone becoming overheated. A pool also allows people with weak muscles to exercise those muscles in a gravity-free environment and perform motions they would not be able to do on land. Some who have MS also report that they derive benefit from Pilates-type workouts for core strength and flexibility.”


Becoming too hot is a concern for those with MS, she added: “If a person with MS becomes overheated, it may temporarily make their symptoms worse. While they are exercising, it is important for them to try to keep cool. They can do that by drinking cold water or ice chips, placing cooling cloths on their head and neck or by wearing special cooling garments. They can also have a fan on during exercise.”

Do you have a question for Dr. Giesser? Email and join the chat at to see the answer!