Nine high quality studies provide strong evidence that exercise therapy can make a difference in the daily living and quality of life of those with the disease, say Dr. Bernard Uitdehaag and colleagues of the Vrije Universitei Medical Centre in the Netherlands.
Exercise therapy also improved the mood of MS patients in exercise therapy programs, compared to patients who did not participate in the therapy. The researchers did not find any evidence that exercise therapy affected patients' fatigue or their sense of how ill they were.
Despite the evidence supporting exercise for MS patients, however, Uitdehaag says it's too early to recommend systematic referral of patients for exercise training. So far, there is no clear indication of how much exercise is beneficial for people who have various types of the degenerative disease, Uitdehaag explains. Only patients who seem able to exercise and who are sufficiently motivated to train should begin the therapy, he says.
"No intervention has proven effective in modifying long-term disease prognosis in multiple sclerosis, but exercise therapy is considered to be an important part of symptomatic and supportive treatment for these patients,” Uitdehaag says.
Exercise therapy probably does not affect the disease process itself, according to co-author Dr. Gert Kwakkel. He says exercise may help "patients learn to compensate their existing deficits. Systematic physical training may reduce disuse, in particular for those who suffer from fatigue.”
The average of age of patients in the reviewed studies ranged from 34 to 51 years old, with varying types and severities of multiple sclerosis. The studies included a wide range of exercise programs and definitions of improved health and fitness, making it difficult to decide what kinds of exercise are best for MS patients.
MEDICA.de; Source: Health Behaviour News Service