Welcome to Season 5 of Living Well with MS, the Overcoming MS podcast where we explore all topics relating to living well with multiple sclerosis. In this episode, we are sharing the highlights from our ‘Exercising at (or close to) home’ webinar with Overcoming MS Facilitator and qualified yoga teacher, Dr Véronique Gauthier-Simmons. Véronique speaks about the importance of exercise when you’re living with MS and how to make exercise a healthy habit that you’ll enjoy.
Keep reading for the key episode takeaways and Veronique’s bio.
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Véronique has been an Overcoming MS facilitator since the AMEX event in Brighton in 2017 and has since led the exercise sessions at several Overcoming MS retreats.
She started yoga when she was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2000 at the age of 34. At the time, she was lecturing at University College Dublin while completing her PhD thesis. She was a heavy smoker then (though no longer), but also addicted to the gym – especially spinning and step aerobics!
Véronique’s yoga qualifications
Yoga was so beneficial for her that Véronique decided to become a teacher. She qualified in Hatha yoga (2009) and then in Yoga Therapy (2013). Together with her husband, she created Taming the Walrus, which is dedicated to encouraging people with chronic conditions to practice yoga. They now live in the South of Portugal.
Véronique and Overcoming MS
Véronique has followed the Overcoming MS Program since 2012 and has found that her health and fitness keep improving. Her exercise regime now also includes weight training, swimming and running. But she’s always open to trying new types of exercise.
There are many benefits of exercise for people with MS
3:17 “When I was diagnosed 20 years ago, my neurologist advised me that exercise was bad for MS. But, since then, there are loads of studies and research showing it's actually good for us, even if the symptoms come up when you exercise. Exercise is good to maintain and develop muscle strength. This has an impact on your mobility, your posture, [and] on daily activities. Exercise also helps to maintain walking speed and it has been proven that exercise increases your energy level.”
If you struggle with fatigue, break your exercise down into manageable short sessions throughout the day
18:45: “If you suffer from fatigue, break it down. In the morning, you could do a two-minute warm-up. There's one very simple warm-up that you can do which is basically moving all your joints, one after the other from the hands to the feet, just moving them around slowly. Then you [could] do five minutes of stretches in the morning. Then later during the day you can do five minutes leg strengthening and core strengthening. Maybe in the afternoon, some upper body strengthening. Then in the evening, I would suggest doing some relaxation. We have to remember that exercise can significantly reduce fatigue levels. It's important to exercise, I think it's important to remember that even 10 minutes makes a difference.”
Start slow and go easy on yourself
20:30 “You don't have to run a marathon. Moderate exercise regularly is great. If you can't do 30 minutes, because you are too tired, or because you're in pain, or you've got balance issues, then do 10 minutes. It's better than nothing. And maybe later, you can do another five or 10 minutes to try to break it down, if it's too much in one, go. And remember to adapt to your condition and be flexible. Don't blame yourself [if you can't do as much as you'd like to].”
- Watch the full webinar here
- Listen to Véronique on S1 Episode 6: The OMS Guide to Getting Fit
- Try Overcoming MS workouts here
- Find out more about ‘The Joy of Movement’ by Kelly McGonigal here
- Listen to the founder of the MS Gym on the Living Well Podcast here
- Find out more about MS Workouts
- Find out more about the Johns Hopkins Cooley Center
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