Can Strength Training Help Multiple Sclerosis?

Can Strength Training Help Multiple Sclerosis?

Can Strength Training Help Multiple Sclerosis

With multiple sclerosis (MS), it can feel like your life is out of your control. People with chronic diseases like MS are two-to-three times more likely to suffer from depression. And although feeling discouraged when dealing with a chronic health issue is understandable, studies show that mindset can play a powerful part in the journey to managing a disease like MS. 

Those who feel like they have control over their health often have better health outcomes. This isn’t just a testament to the power of positive thinking; people who believe they have control are more likely to regularly participate in healthy behaviors. Those behaviors can influence factors such as lifespan, quality of life, and whether the condition progresses.

Multiple sclerosis is no exception. While it can be a daunting condition, health habits have a large impact on how – and if – the condition progresses. One of these health habits is strength training.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Before getting into the benefits of strength training, let’s talk about Multiple Sclerosis. MS is an autoimmune disease that affects about a million Americans and over 2.3 million people worldwide. 

The affected population is growing too, with an increase over 300% since the 1990s. There is no known cause of MS. Genetics and environment both play a role in the risk of developing the disease, with family members and those in locations with less sunlight seeming to be at the greatest risk. Women are also at a greater risk, with diagnosis most commonly occurring between 20 and 50 years old.

MS features lesions on the myelin sheath, which is a tissue that covers nerves. The sheath helps with delivering messages quickly to other parts of the body. When it’s damaged, the ability of the central nervous system to communicate with other parts of the body is affected. 

 

People with MS experience a number of potential challenges as a result: 

  • Difficulty with walking
  • Fatigue
  • Strength loss
  • Heat intolerance
  • Dizziness
  • Balance issues
  • Difficulty with precise movements and other symptoms.
How can Strength Training help Multiple Sclerosis Diagram
mage source: Healthline

Strength Training and MS

The symptoms and MS’s progression are not guaranteed, though. An article authored by researchers in Denmark detailed the results of 16 strength training research programs for those who are living with MS. A number of benefits were observed. 

Strength training leads to a reduction in fatigue, one of the most common MS symptoms. Strength training enhances overall mood, lower body strength, and balance. Perhaps stemming from the increase in strength and balance, training led to more ease with daily activities. These activities include walking long distances, standing from chairs, and stair-climbing. The majority of studies showed these benefits were obtained from training twice per week.

All of the above benefits are meaningful contributions to quality of life. There might be a more important benefit, though. Strength training might stop MS progression. Those who strength trained for six months experienced a lack of lesion growth during that time. The researchers also observed that strength training might even help the brain tissue regrow!

Is Strength Training Safe for Those With MS?

These benefits all sound promising, but there’s an important question to ask: Is strength training safe for those with multiple sclerosis? 

In the 16 studies discussed in the Danish research article, workout session attendance ranged from 90-100%. Drop-out rates ranged from 0-13%. No major injuries or side effects were reported in any study. In short, people with MS made almost all of their workouts, the vast majority of people finished their workout program obligations, and no major issues occurred. 

The Perfect Workout is uniquely advantageous for people with MS. As noted before, those with MS often have an intolerance for heat. The Perfect Workout studios are clinically controlled environments, keeping the temperature between 65-68 degrees and fans that can be used upon request. All studios have water coolers with available cold water. (Even if you’re Virtually Training, the brief nature of the 20-minute workout leaves little time to work up a sweat.) In addition, every client has a dedicated Personal Trainer who tailors the workout to the client’s needs and challenges.

If you have MS, don’t let the disease control your future. Control your own future. Strength train twice per week to reduce fatigue, enhance strength and balance, make daily activities easier, and possibly halt the progression of MS.

  1. Helgeson, V.S. & Zajdel, M. (2017). Adjusting to chronic health conditions. Annual Review of Psychology, 68(1), 545-571. 
  2. Kjolhede, T., Vissing, & Dalgas, U. (2011). Multiple sclerosis and progressive resistance training: a systematic review. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 0(0), 1-14. 
  3. Kjolhede, T., Siemonsen, S., Wenzel, D., Stellmann, J.P., Ringgaard, S., Pedersen, B.G., …Dalgas, U. (2017). Can resistance training impact MRI outcomes in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis? Multiple Sclerosis Journal, DOI: 10/1177/1352458517722645.
  4. Cobb-Clark, D.A., de New, S.C., & Schurer, S. (2014). Healthy habits: the connection between diet, exercise, and locus of control. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 98, 1-28.   Link: https://www.iza.org/publications/dp/6789/healthy-habits-the-connection-between-diet-exercise-and-locus-of-control
  5. Berglund, E., Lystsy, P., & Westerling, R. (2014). The influence of locus of control on self-rated health in context of chronic disease: a structural modeling approach in a cross sectional study. BMC Public Health, 14, 492.      Link: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-14-492

Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and Weight Loss

m.s., Fibromyalgia, weight loss... He's Helping all of them

As a model and actor, for years it has literally been Jeffrey Blockson’s job to stay in shape.

Jeff lives a simple but strict motto that no matter what age you are, or where you come from, you don’t have any excuses to not take care of what’s most important- your health.

Must be easy for someone who models, right? 

Even though Jeff has put in hard work and dedication to stay strong and healthy it CAN be easy for anyone. Take it from some of his clients who have Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, and lifelong weight loss struggles…

They are living proof that it only takes 20 minutes, twice a week to take control of your health, no matter what.

In college, Jeffrey noticed that a lot of his friends and fellow classmates lacked time and money,  which made it challenging for them to exercise regularly and eat healthy foods. With his own experience staying in shape and a desire to help people balance a healthy life with a hectic schedule, Jeff’s personal training career began to bud.

When he learned about slow-motion strength training, Jeffrey became even more enthralled with the idea of only needing 20 minutes to get in a workout and care for yourself. This method makes better health much more accessible to those who struggle to get it.

After experiencing a workout at one of The Perfect Workout’s Chicago studios, he knew he wanted to be involved in the company.

Those with M.S. Can Do It

During his time as a trainer at The Perfect Workout, Jeff has helped many clients work through specific conditions. His client Pat has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which causes her to use a walker.

But that doesn’t get in the way of her workouts.

“Oh, no, trust me, don't let that fool you. She'll get on the leg press and kill it.”

Pat and Jeff’s work together has helped her gain strength, improve her balance, and lose weight.

Just recently, she told Jeff that she surpassed her weight loss goals and she didn’t feel like she needed to lose any more weight.

 

Read more about some of our clients success working out with M.S. below 👇🏽

Those With Weight Loss Struggles Can Do It

One of Jeff’s favorite college courses was Psychology because he enjoys diving deep into the psyche of people to understand them better.

As a Personal Trainer, he gets to use these skills to understand the real why behind his clients wanting to improve their body and health. 

As certified Personal Trainers, we can better serve our clients and help them reach their goals when we know what motivates them. 

One of Jeff’s clients was a little closed off when they first began working together. She came in looking to lose weight and tone up, some very common goals with new clients. But Jeff was determined to find out her deeper motivation. 

After building trust, getting to know one another, and Jeff’s persistence to understand his client he finally found out why she wanted to reshape her body.

“She finally broke down to me. She said, ‘When I was a little girl, my father told me that I was overweight. He used to call me fat. He used to call me these names all the time. And here I am. I am 50-something years old and I'm still that same little girl.’”

“When you get to those moments, not only do you gain trust, but you can truly understand the client and I'm all about that.”

Those With Fibromyalgia Can Do It

Jeffrey began working with a woman named Nella in Orland Park, IL before he took over the SW San Jose studio in California.

Nella’s husband had been training with Jeffrey and had been trying to get her into the studio. Nella has fibromyalgia and was concerned it would get in the way of exercise. But she decided to try the workout one day and fell in love with it.

A symptom of fibromyalgia is chronic pain and stiffness, both of which she would experience often- even in workouts.

One day, she was on the leg press machine and stopped. She put her head down and it prompted Jeffrey to ask her if everything was okay.

Then, she started to cry.

“She told me that, with her condition, it always feels like spinning. And she said, for a short moment, it stopped. And she can't think of the last time she felt that way.”

And the progress only got better. 

Nella used to come to her workouts using a cane, but eventually she was able to stop using it and began moving around much faster. 

“These moments are just incredible.”

And one of the most incredible parts is that despite these challenges and conditions for clients like Nella and Pat, they are still able to change their lives with a 20-minute workout with a Trainer.

Anyone Can Do It, No Matter What

Whether you’re inspired by Pat getting stronger despite her MS and need for a walker, or Nella’s ability to ditch her cane, we want you to know this…

If they can do it, so can you.

All it takes is 20 minutes, twice a week!

Mom & Daughter, Training 1000+ Miles Apart

mom & daughter prove what's possible, training 1000+ miles apart

virtual training possible

Believe it or not, it’s actually been on our list for some time to create a Virtual Training program because a lot of our clients aren't always able to make it to our studios.

With the pandemic, it became even more obvious for us that it was time to innovate.

Luckily, a special mother and daughter duo were already testing the waters of Virtual Training before we knew how vital it would be for everyone…

In October 2019, Robin Lancaster traveled to Texas to visit her daughter Hannah McKinley, a trainer at The Perfect Workout.

Robin has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and it's always been a little bit of a struggle for her to maintain her fitness.

So, while Robin was in Texas, Hannah decided to put her through a workout in one of our studios. Robin loved the workout and wanted to continue with it but The Perfect Workout currently doesn’t have locations in North Carolina.

This gave Hannah the idea to train Robin virtually when she got home.

After some trial and error, they figured out how Robin could do slow-motion strength training with limited equipment and live coaching from Hannah over the computer.

In just three months of Virtual Training, Robin lost 15 pounds.

She’s also drastically improved her strength and improved her quality of life in everyday activities

One of the key pieces to her success was the 1-on-1 coaching she received from Hannah, in addition to our science-backed strength training methodology.

Client loses 15 pounds with Virtual personal trainer before and after results

We've helped a number of clients with MS improve their quality of life by:

  • increasing strength
  • improving balance and stability
  • creating independence in daily activities
  • providing them with a workout they can do with MS and for life!

Read about some of our clients below!

“She feels like she can enjoy being out in the yard and doing what she wants to do. She's even got [muscle] definition. She said she's never seen that before.” – Hannah

What they didn’t know was that Hannah and Robin were laying the groundwork for what would become The Perfect Workout’s Virtual Training Program.

When the first shelter at home orders were mandated, we were able to quickly pivot from our in-studio personal training to online personal training.

The work they had done to improve Robin’s health ultimately helped us offer slow-motion strength training to everyone, no matter where in the world they are.

These incredible women proved to themselves and the rest of the world that there was still a way to stay strong, healthy, and lose weight by doing slow-motion strength training virtually.

Multiple sclerosis: Dream of Walking On Her Own

MS didn't stop her from fulfilling her dream of walking on her own

ms strong perfect workout

“I just wanted to be able to walk.”

Life has thrown some health curveballs at Adele Biancarelli and throughout her battles she’s kept one constant vision for her future- to be able to walk on her own.

At 68 years old, she’s achieved her vision and so much more. Keep reading for her story.

She just wanted to be able to walk

Adele Biancarelli has battled Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for decades which disrupts the communication between body and brain, making everyday functions like walking a challenge.

In addition to MS, she also has Dystonia where involuntary muscle contractions cause repetitive or twisting movements. For Adele, this makes her body tend to lean significantly to one side, throwing off her balance, and muscle use.

“My whole body is always slanted over to one side. And so it causes me a lot of pain.”

Ever since she was a young girl Adele holds a memory of an MS woman who couldn’t walk and it’s been a driving force for her to avoid that same outcome.

“I never want to be that way. That's the only thing I ever wanted to do was walk.”

Tustin Client

Car accident becomes a catalyst

A few years ago, Adele got into a car accident that became a wakeup call for her.

Another driver suddenly pulled out right in front of her in an alleyway and Adele couldn't control her own car in time, and crashed.

She knew that driving may not be the best idea for her anymore, and the need to be able to walk became more pressing.

Two things became her saving grace in those moments. A light backpack that allowed her to stand upright (see video) and The Perfect Workout.

Her miracle

“I wanted to be strong enough to be my own cane.”

When Adele saw an ad for The Perfect Workout’s 20-minute strength training program, she thought, “this is perfect.”

In February, 2017 Adele joined The Perfect Workout’s Wheaton studio and has loved the entire experience.

After two years of training consistently once a week with Personal Trainers Adele realized something incredible…

“I woke up one day and I'm holding myself up! How did this happen?”

Adele was getting stronger throughout her entire body from slow-motion strength training and finally had the strength and stability to stand up straight without assistance.

But she was able to do more than just stand.

She got rid of her canes and became “her own cane” like she had always wanted.

“I don't use them anymore. They're there if I need them, but I feel like I'm strong enough.”

MS - Tustin Client

MS client, Linda doesn't have to rely on her cane much anymore due to slow-motion strength training.

The power of just one workout a week

Adele has been able to continually build and maintain her strength in 2020 with Virtual Training which is really important for someone with MS since it's a degenerative disease.

“I still have MS and still can act up. [Virtual Training] has worked out really good. There's a minimal amount of energy that I have to expend getting to and from.. It's just been such a positive experience.”

Adele is thrilled with all of her results. In addition to ditching her cane and being able to walk tall, she’s achieved some other significant results.

Before joining The Perfect Workout, Adele used to have a rather prominent hump in her back and her newfound strength and posture have helped to reduce it.

“I was like a humpback, It was really bad. And it's really gone down a lot!”

She’s also lost weight without really trying. Almost 20lbs actually!

And she’s been able to do all of this with just one 20-minute training session a week. Imagine the transformation that could take place with two sessions a week.

Kyphosis is a common “humpback” issue older adults face and can be improved through strength training. (Image source: Fit4lifehealthclubs)

Her perfect workout

Slow-motion strength training has been such a simple, yet powerful solution for Adele.

She’s able to walk without assistance, she’s gained muscle and lost fat, reduced the hump in her back and loves the way her body feels at 68 years old.

“It's so nice to be able to walk and I hardly feel any pain anymore. It's so cool to feel my muscles. My legs never had definition before. It's so fun.

But, more importantly, I'm walking and I could see myself doing this as I age.”

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