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12 June 2020

Exercise webinar review by Martin Baum

MS writer Martin watched the webinar replay, (as livestreaming affects his optic neuritis) and shared his thoughts about Veronique's motivational mantra, that a little exercise, every day, goes a long way.

As a relative newbie to the ins and outs of the Overcoming MS programme, I came to another webinar with an open mind.  Being cautious by nature, I am wary about throwing my lot in with something ‘new’.  However, spending a little over an hour in the company of OMS fitness expert Veronique Gauthier-Simmons was time well shared.  

The webinar theme: Exercise at (or close to) home was a life lesson in common sense.  Because MS, for some, is a powerful mental deterrent against exercise participation, Veronique’s message of ‘something is better than nothing’ was motivational to achieving better mental and physical health. 

While there are accessible MS workouts to help regulate endurance and strength through the MS Gym and the John Hopkins Cooley Centre on YouTube, exercise can still be incredibly stressful to many MSers.  Veronique’s technique of incorporating dance into her regime was something I had not anticipated.   

The act of doing – as opposed to not – was a wonderful tie-in between the mental and physical disciplines.  While swaying to ‘Mul Mantra’ by Snatam Kaur (I Googled the song and it’s impossible not to be affected by the rhythm) was not exactly a Joe Wicks moment it did, however, make perfect sense to reduce stress.   

Veronique’s slideshow drew attention to how exercise helped with sleep, weight, modifying the course of MS and maintaining a quality of life, but she also highlighted the importance of yoga and breathing. 

An online poll that ran concurrently with the webinar about how much exercise OMSers did in a week saw that 3% did none, 14% did less than an hour, 35% did 3-5 hours, and 25% achieved more than 5 hours.  Although those stats were interesting, it was the first one that was the most telling: 3% did no exercise at all. 

The thirty-minute exercise series of stretches, upper body and leg strengthening is something for the 3% to aspire to because it is all about creating healthy routines and setting goals for ourselves.  This reminded me of what it was like when I was once a long-distance runner with the goal of improving my physical and mental ability.  Although I will never be that athletic again it will not just be because of MS but at the age of 60 I know my limitations and that’s why this webinar struck a chord. 

Be it swimming, yoga, stretching, chair aerobics, meditation or breathing, what came across was an underlying message that by doing something as opposed to nothing meant that we, as MSers, can help ourselves.  By the end of the session I was struck by two songs that for me best defined the webinar. 

The first is Veronique’s favourite song ‘Mul Mantra’, and the other ‘Tain’t What You Do It’s the Way That You Do It’ – because in the words of the song, and also in my opinion, that’s what gets results. 

All the webinar replays are available here

Mul Mantra:

‘Tain’t what you do (Jimmie Lunceford)