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June 29, 2020

Medical Recommendations for Exercise in People with Multiple Sclerosis

by Zara Jethani

A new paper1 co-authored by multiple sclerosis neurology specialist, Dr. Barbara Giesser, was published April 23, 2020, in Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system including parts of the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord.

Cited in The Washington Post2, the publication entitled, “Exercise and lifestyle physical activity recommendations for people with multiple sclerosis throughout the disease course”, provides evidence-based, and expert opinion–based recommendations for physicians treating people with MS, encouraging exercise and lifestyle physical activity across a wide range of disability levels.

Experts in the field were brought together by the National MS Society to determine appropriate activity levels for patients throughout their disease course and identify factors that represent barriers to exercise.

Exercise and MS – MS Society Recommendations:

Endorsed by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers

  • Healthcare providers should endorse and promote the benefits/safety of exercise and lifestyle physical activity for every person with MS.
  • Early evaluation by a physical or occupational therapist or exercise or sport scientist, experienced in MS (hereafter referred to as “specialists”), is recommended to establish an individualized exercise and/or lifestyle physical activity plan.
  • Taking into account comorbidities and symptom fluctuations, healthcare providers should encourage ⩾150 min/week of exercise and/or ⩾150 min/week of lifestyle physical activity.
  • Progress toward these targets should be gradual, based on the person’s abilities, preferences, and safety.
  • If disability increases and exercise/physical activity becomes more challenging, referrals to specialists are essential to ensure safe and appropriate prescriptions.
  • When physical mobility is very limited, exercise should be facilitated by a trained assistant.

Heat is a considerable concern however, so it is important for patients to stay cool during activity to prevent aggravation or flare-up of symptoms.

About Dr. Barbara Geisser

Barbara S. Giesser, MD, FAAN, FANA, is an internationally recognized clinician and award-winning educator who has specialized in the care of persons with Multiple Sclerosis since 1982.

Barbara Giesser, MD

At the Brain Health Center at Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, CA, her approach to the diagnosis and management of people with MS combines state of the art diagnostics and a personalized medication plan for each patient with an emphasis on integrating lifestyle and wellness strategies into the neurologic treatment plan.

For more information, contact Dr. Barbara Giesser at 310-582-7613 or schedule a consultation online.



About the Author

Zara Jethani, MS, MBA

Zara Jethani

Zara is the marketing director at Pacific Neuroscience Institute. Her background is in molecular genetics research and healthcare marketing. In addition, she is a graphic designer with more than 20 years experience in the healthcare, education and entertainment industries.

Last updated: May 5th, 2022