A core part of the OMS Program, exercise for those with MS is recommended as vigorously as it can be conducted, for a minimum 20-30 minutes around five times per week.

Treadmill as an option

Whilst the icing on the OMS cake is to do your exercise outdoors, we realise this isn’t always possible, and that’s where the gym or your own home sports equipment can play a part.

And if the treadmill happens to be your weapon of choice, there’s motivating news recently in from the Americas Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2016 in New Orleans.

Presented by Brian M. Sandroff from the Kessler Foundation and Robert W. Motl from the University of Illinois, the study “Acute effects of treadmill walking exercise on inhibitory control in MS: Do exercise intensity and thermosensitivity matter?” explored the effects of exercise in people with Multiple Sclerosis.

Not only did the pair report that exercise does provide the tools to manage cognitive impairment in those with MS, but their preliminary results showed that walking on the treadmill may be one of the most beneficial exercises to aid inhibitory control – the ability to maintain focus when concentrating on a task.

In the study, 24 people with MS were asked to walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes each of light, moderate and vigorous intensity, and then also to have 20 minutes of quiet rest.

Cognitive benefits

Their inhibitory control was measured before and after each 20 minutes using a cognitive test known as the Flanker Task. The results revealed an improvement in inhibitory control across all three intensities of treadmill exercise compared with the quiet rest.

Further, in order to test whether the increase in temperature associated with exercise could have a negative impact on its potential benefits, 14 people with heat-sensitive MS were asked to complete 20 minutes of vigorous treadmill walking, and 20 minutes of quiet rest.

Core body temperature was monitored throughout both tests, and again, inhibitory control was evaluated before and after. The results showed that despite the core body temperature being significantly raised during the vigorous exercise, inhibitory control was improved compared to during quiet rest.

The team therefore concluded that treadmill walking, across all intensities, has a positive effect on inhibitory control in those with MS, and that this effect is not invalidated by the increase in body temperature.

They stated that this could be the next step in defining the optimal exercise stimuli for cognitive improvement in those with MS, and that the study also supports the feasibility of treadmill exercise for improving inhibitory control in those with heat-sensitive MS.

As in a number of other studies, we are now starting to see benefits for cognitive function arising from vigorous exercise. Even treadmill walking seems to aid concentration. All the more reason to jump on board the OMS Recovery Program!

View the study

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