Multiple sclerosis and physical activity - L'Infirmière Magazine n° 371 du 01/05/2016 | Espace Infirmier

L'infirmière Magazine n° 371 du 01/05/2016




A trainee nurse and a resident doctor are talking about the benefits of physical activity on chronic diseases, particularly multiple sclerosis.

Trainee nurse : I know that multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, and that it has extremely disabling symptoms, such as loss of muscle coordination, problems with vision, speech, and bladder control. Can physical activity have any positive effects on this illness ?

Resident doctor : Yes. Living with multiple sclerosis can be a difficult experience, both physically and psychologically. Patients experience excessive fatigue, muscle weakness and motor abnormalities. And this is exactly where physical activity comes in.

Nurse : Does that mean that inactivity can further decrease the motor function ?

Doctor : Not only that. A predominately sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing secondary health issues such as cardiovascular disease. Exercise has shown to be effective in improving function, mobility and health related issues in people with multiple sclerosis. It may also help ease symptoms and minimize the risk for certain complications like fatigue, vertigo and sleep disorders.

Nurse : What are the exercises that can be done by patients with multiple sclerosis ?

Doctor : There’s no ideal exercice that’s tailored for everyone. The trick is to find what works best for a patient, and what he enjoys, and stick with it. However, in general, water exercises are particularly good for these patients, as they don’t put stress on joints.

Nurse : And I guess that patients must get professional help in this sense.

Doctor : Yes. It is highly recommended that they seek the help of a physical therapist to determine which exercises would be most adapted and beneficial.

Nurse : But then again, isn’t there one sports activity that can best be recommended ?

Doctor : I think that talking of “physical activity” is best suited here. For example, a patient can practice yoga, which helps reduce fatigue. Water exercises can also improve the quality of life and decrease the feeling of fatigue.

Nurse : And what about daily life activities ? Do they have any positive effects ?

Doctor : Sure. Brisk walking or bicycling and even dancing, or leisure activities in general, which are muscle-strengthening exercises, are helpful for a better mood and to maintain overall health.

Nurse : Are there any exercises that might positively influence some physiological functions ?

Doctor : Aerobic exercises, in general, improve bowel and bladder function, but again, yoga helps also in this sense.

Nurse : Is there any special activity that aims at bone strengthening ?

Doctor : Simple weight-bearing exercises in everyday life, like carrying shopping bags, taking the stairs, or jogging strengthen bones and protect against osteoporosis, help maintain body weight and improve the heart health. Most of all, it is important to have regular exercise to help ease symptoms and minimize the risk of complications.


Multiple sclerosis : sclérose en plaques

Bone strengthening : renforcement osseux

Brisk walking : marche soutenue

Daily life activities : activités du quotidien

Disabling : handicapant

Health issues : problèmes de santé

Motor abnormalities : anomalies motrices

Muscle strengthening : renforcement musculaire

Weight-bearing exercises : exercices de mise en forme

Common phrases

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system.

→ La sclérose en plaques est une maladie auto-immune qui touche le système nerveux central.

Sedentarity can further decrease the motor function.

→ La sédentarité peut réduire davantage les fonctions motrices.

Exercise is effective in improving motor function, mobility and quality of life.

→ L’activité physique sert à améliorer les fonctions motrices, la mobilité et la qualité de vie.

Water exercises are good as they don’t put stress on joints.

→ Les sports d’eau sont bénéfiques car ils ne sollicitent pas les articulations.

Brisk walking, bicycling and dancing are helpful for muscle-strengthening and maintaining overall health.

→ La marche soutenue, le vélo et la danse renforcent les muscles et permettent de rester en bonne santé.

Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and protect against osteoporosis.

→ Le port de poids renforce les muscles et protège de l’ostéoporose.