Ask the Expert – Mobility

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD 

MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer  

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA
Barry Hendin, MD

Question: What types of exercises are best to help with mobility and walking issues in MS?  

Answer: A number of different exercises can improve and maintain walking and mobility skills along with safety. Many of these exercises can be learned through formal physical therapy or through online programs. They can include exercises focused on range of motion and flexibility. Alternatively, they may focus on strengthening through resistance training. Some exercises are directed toward general cardiovascular health and others focus primarily on balance. Although any of these forms of exercise may be useful, specific exercise for an individual should focus on an individual’s exact needs. 

There are also some general principles about exercise and multiple sclerosis. First, when you are initiating your own exercise program, find one that you actually enjoy doing so that you will want to continue and won’t quit after a few sessions. I also find that regular exercise, even if it is for a limited time, is preferable to infrequent and prolonged exercise (which may lead to overexertion).  

During active exercise, try to stay cool. This can be done through hydration, but also through cooling devices such as cooling vests. Please note that MSAA offers a Cooling Distribution Program – more information can be found by visiting mymsaa.org/cooling.  

Some people prefer to exercise alone, while others maintain their motivation through an exercise “buddy” or an exercise group. 

Maintaining a regular exercise pattern is an important part of maintaining a general wellness protocol that includes a healthy diet, attention to mental health, and social connectivity. Each person should find an exercise that best fits their abilities and their interests – please know that it won’t be the same for everyone! 

MSAA’s Ask the Expert series received a Silver Award from the 24th Annual Digital Health Awards! 

Barry A. Hendin, MD, is a neurologist and Director of the Arizona Integrated Neurology MS Center. He is also Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at Banner University Medical Center and Clinical Professor of Neurology at the University of Arizona Medical School. 

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About MSAA

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization and leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a Helpline with trained specialists; award-winning publications, including, The Motivator; MSAA’s nationally recognized website, featuring educational videos, webinars, and research updates; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; safety and mobility equipment products; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; MRI funding; My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online support forum; MS Conversations blog; a clinical trial search tool; podcasts; and more. For additional information, please visit www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

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