"This is the first published report using a conventional weight-training program for patients with MS,” said Lesley White, professor in UF's department of applied physiology and kinesiology. "We designed an exercise program to develop muscle strength because MS causes muscle weakness and fatigue, which contribute to a declining cycle of fitness, loss of mobility and decreased quality of life.”

The study showed that after eight weeks of supervised resistance training on conventional gym equipment, eight MS patients had stronger muscles, could walk better, and reported less overall fatigue and disability.

Previous studies of the effects of aerobic exercise on MS patients showed promise, but a concurrent increase in body temperature could also exacerbate their pain because of their sensivity to heat. Consequently, many doctors have been hesitant to prescribe exercise regimens as treatment, thinking it could do more harm than good, White said.

Strength training, however, does not increase body temperature like aerobic exercise does, and it focuses on one of the primary targets of MS - muscle mass. The regimen of the study included no more than 30 minutes of supervised weight training twice a week for eight weeks, focusing on the legs, abdomen and lower back. Each subject's initial weight load was determined from a pre-study strength test. Once subjects could do 15 repetitions consistently, they progressed to higher weight resistance.

"Because no previous data on MS patients doing strength training with conventional gym equipment have been reported, we wanted to be a little conservative in our approach and therefore designed a relatively low-intensity program. But the results of this preliminary study suggest that MS patients are capable of adapting to resistance training favourably, and may be able to tolerate more intensive training,” White explained.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Florida