You’ve heard the expression “use it or lose it”.  Well, that expression can be converted to “use them, your muscles, or lose them” when it comes to multiple sclerosis.  More than likely, your doctor would agree that “exercise is great medicine”. And I couldn’t agree more.  Clinical research attesting to the powerful benefits of exercise is not new.  Research on this subject began in earnest over 50 years ago.  Moreover, the facts about the benefits of exercise appear in numerous well-designed studies covering many different health issues.

There is no doube that pills let us feel better, when numerous diseases that we are taking these pills for continue to cause our health to get worse.  According to published research, exercise is safe and effective for fatigue; in addition, exercise improves osteoarthritis; further, it reduces complications of diabetes; further still, it makes bones stronger and slows down degeneration of eye muscles.

 So, regarding your muscles, let’s get busy to “use them before you lose them”.  Exercisers can regain a steadier walk, improve balance, and help increase memory.


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To Your Better Health,

Dr. Rudy Cartwright
MS Health Coach

PS: Post your comments below.

42 thoughts on “USE THEM OR LOSE THEM

  1. Oh Dear! I’m done for. Exercises make my brain hurt and I get dizzy. I had a brain haemmorhage about 10 years ago and that is how it has left me. I also had fits then but not now. Therefore I keep active but in a more subtle way. I visit an MS Centre for the day and have Bowen Therapy and Lunch while I’m there. It’s a very social occasion. I go every week. Then another day i visit a garden club then an Art class in the afternoon. This again is every week. I think I do enough. I hope so.


  3. Dear Dr. Cartwright, I have surgery with general Anaesthetic on 14th November do I need to stop taking Essentials before surgery or it is safe to carry on? Sladjana

    • Sladjana,

      Keep taking THE ESSENTIALS. But, make certain that your anaesthesiologist does not use nitrous oxide prior to your surgery, during your surgery, or aftery your surgery. Nitrous oxide is a horrible actor when it comes to MS.

      Dr. Cartwright

  4. I often tell my family that I need to do exercise ‘because Doctor Cartwright says so’! It helps me so much. Thanks very much for all the advice you give us, and keep giving us so that we don’t do things once and then not carry on doing them.

    • Susannah,

      Please keep in mind that what i bring to the table is what the scientific research shows that benefits “MS recoverers”. In other words, I talk about the weight of the evidence and list a number of the supporting references. Based on the feed-back that i get, exercise is truly wonderful.

      Dr. Cartwright

  5. My mountain bike is my salvation! Ride at least 20 minutes a day with gears on low since I live on flat land. Took the bike to NC for the month of July this past Summer and was able to ride on 5-10 percent steep grades. Talk about working those leg muscles!

  6. Hello, I am not so sure about use them or lose them when it comes to MS, I used to exercise for an hour a day and my ms stopped me from doing that in the end, so why if I was using my muscles?

    Having said that I am using a walkr and not just a wheelchair these days! How cool, still love to be like I was before though.

  7. Yes, I totally agree Exercise and (Weight Training) is the Best Medicine for anyone, especially people with MS. I’ve always exercised and when diagnosed with MS at age 25 I started taking Betaseron then switched to Copaxone and continued to do the exercise! Now I’m 40 and I still exercise and weight train and I love it. I believe and also read that exercise gives you lots of energy, stength, endurance, is great for your bones and muscles, is a great stress reliever and helps you look and feel great! So put on some music and have some fun and Exercise your way to Better Health! Exercise and Weight Training is great for all levels of MS just find what works for you!!!!!!!! Take Care Everyone and I wish you Good Health!!!!!

  8. I do not do any particular exercises at home but am still working. I am still able to drive and see my customers about 3 days week. There is a little walking involved when I go to see my customers. I generally get fatigued about 2:00 in the afternoon and a 30 minute nap helps me to continue for the rest of the day.
    I on daily Copaxone shots and several other prescriptions.
    Is there anything else I should do to keep going?

  9. I find yoga very helpful as exercises and breathing techniques done on a daily basis. A good reference is a book called YOGA and MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS – A journey to Health and Healing written by Eric Small (who has had MS for 50 years!!!! He produced a video called YOGA with Eric Small. Can be obtained from National MS Society, Northern & Southern California Chapters. C’est si bon!

  10. I have a sit and stand machine(allows you to rise to a standing position from a wheelchair or chair). I also have a recumbent eliptical cross-trainer called the NuStepTRS4000. Both of these machines could help in the quest for more exercise with anyone that has MS.

  11. I agree! Exercise is important. I have had MS for 28 years and I am ambulatory with a cane. I exercise 3 times a week at a local Physical Therapy establishment. After my P.T. ordered by my Dr. I joined their maintenance program for $20.00 a month. I can go as many times as I want and either work out in the pool (great option due to heat intolerance) or work out on recumbant bikes and weights. It has made a huge difference in how I feel.

  12. My neurologist is recommending a drug called Gelenya. It has an $800 co pay and main side effects are bradycardia and macular edema plus flu, headaches the works. I am an ultrasound tech and need my eyes. Thank Goodness I have never gotten optic neuritis. My main symptoms are servere numbness and tingling pains of my hands and feet. MD says disability is enevitable if I don’t start something because of the C spine spot. Would you reccomend such an expensive drug that only has a 30% chance of preventing relapse? My goal is remain NOT disabled.
    Thank you for your input.

  13. Hi Dr Rudy,
    I truly believe exercise has helped me greatly…I walk, hike, jog and practice pilates. I have had MS for the past 30 years. My worst symptom over the past 10 years has been my decreased ability to see/my vision. My eyes jump and I know I have had damage to both optic nerves. What is your opinion re eye vitamins that are currently on the market?

    Regards to all.

    Olga in PR

  14. I totally agree “use it or loose it”.I have had MS for 14 years and have been a gym bunny for 11 of those years.I totally believe in doing resistance exercises i.e. with weights at the gym.I am still totally mobile,no one would know that I have MS unless they knew me.I train with a trainer (a small price to pay for staying healthy) once a week and then follow their programme for the rest of the week.I take supplements daily and keep my attitude very positive.

  15. Oh Geppetto, why must I have a wooden head? Well not really, I don’t. Still, I’ll have to look up Nitrous oxide. Now I will wonder, is this something the anaesthesiologist will give to patients? Why would it be a bad actor? I haven’t lost the gist of this email, for I believe also that we should keep exercising. Believing and thinking this is good, but receiving this is like a major prompt and reminder, when coming from yourselves. I love reading the comments and questions of others. Door openers to questions I should or might have. Have a grand day, and thank you so much for the incoming advice and info! Michelle

  16. Dear Dr. Cartwright,

    I went over a curb in my power wheelchair on the sidewalk by accident and broke my hip when my femur jammed up into it.
    I didn’t feel the pain and had no idea but my left leg started spazaming as soon as three drivers stopped their cars and rushed over to pick up and put me back into my chair.
    This was two years ago and I got a plutonium left hip ball the day after my accident.
    My left leg would not fully straighten out after a few months and now neither will the right. I still get spazams in both now and in spite of getting months and months of physical therapy and trying to resume my swimming routine at the YMCA I have lost my way to seeing improvement. My legs will not straighten out and itis weird to go swimming with bent legs.
    I can no longer stand even briefly like I used to two years ago. I thought I was going to be able to walk again!
    I have to go on the bus to get to the Y and my swimming habits have been difficult to maintain.
    I am 59 years old, eat well, take 40 mgs of baclofen two or three times a day to help my leg’s conditions.
    My beautiful wife works as a supervising producer on cable tv shows and we are trying to keep our house after we almost lost it from the “mortgage crisis” last year.
    All I have is my monthly social security disabilty check of $1600.
    My other ability’s are doing ok I think.

    Is there any hope for my legs?
    Thank you,

  17. Well done Jan J! I exercise up to 3 times a day every day I have had MS 16 years and you would not know If I did not tell you, I was very bad 3 years ago but I Exercised myself back to fitness and I just went out for a three mile walk tonight, 3 years ago I could only walk 50M I admit I get a bit of foot drop after 5 miles!

  18. I am 59 who has had MS since ’74 .I swim each day all year round before work yet my left side is now weak and I have muscle wasteage .What more can I do to stimulate these weak muscles Ithe last four years I have developed a left foot drop so now limp and this can cause several falls

  19. I completely agree that excercise helps. Increasin hear beat is the most important element for blood circulation and thereby, our brain cells got activated. However, we need to do it carefully. The opimal excercise is unique to each individual, depending on the level of their fogs.
    Recently, i have injured my right hand fingers. I have terrible numbness after i did some heavy excercise. This means i crossed the opimum weight i should have carried with my right-hand. Similarly, the more i talk the higher will be the numbness on my tongue. Therefore, a care must be done until which level you need to use your tongue muscle.

    This is my expeirence,

  20. I have just started physical therapy again, after several months. I totally agree
    with the use it or lose it philosophy. I had to start with Visiting Nurse service. I am now going out-patient and feel hopeful. Dizziness and extreme fatigue often stop me in my tracks, but I keep at it.

  21. As a midwife, I subscribe to Dr Cartwrights MS Course for my daughter who is newly diagnosed. Did not know about Nitrous Oxide. Can Dr Cartwright confirm that a mum with MS should not be given Entonox during labour. What pain relief would you recommend? Thank you.

  22. I walk every where as in unable to drive due to the spasms i have in my legs. I take numerous tablets to help prevent this from happening, walking however is still a pain for me. i try my best and push myself to exercise but this causes my spasms to come back twice as worse.

  23. Dr. Cartwright, I was wondering, it has been 15 years, since I was diagnosed with M.S. I have an Identicle twin brother (Pat) who also has M.S. he was aware a couple years earlier, but didnt tell anyone. Anyway he has attended Mexico a year ago for the surgery (opening of the veins/arteries) I have not. Pat is in a wheel chair, I am still walking around. What is your thought on this? We are 46 years old and both RCMP Officers in Saskatchewan, Canada.
    I think we would be good test subjects for any further studies.

    • Mr. Grunerud,

      I recommend that you contact the Sask health minister right away. The health authorities are allowing the CCSVI procedure to be done in Buffalo, NY.

      Dr. Cartwright

  24. i would like some suggestions as to what excercises or machine can be used if i am in a wheel chair and have been for 20 years. i SO wish i could do SOMETHING. suggestions?

  25. I want to know what else can i do for exercise i have a exercise machine that i can barly go 5 mins on. any ideas?

  26. Dear Dr. Cartwright,

    I was diagnosd with MS RR in 2002, also Diagnosed with myotonia congenita, had prolapsed disk in 2003, had operation to remove part of this disk. I do not have the mane syptomss like pain, spasms, stiffns, Brain fog, ms fatigue and depression. I go to the gym 6 days a week, i do cycle work, weight traing, hip flexor work, diffrent core exercises, swimming, etc. I have ice cold baths everyday for 30 mins (summer months) 18 min (winter Months). These baths have changed my life, able to walk without a stick for 200 yards wihout a stick. i use a sstick at all times except after ice cold baths.

    My main problem is after standing or seating for around about 10 minutes, my upperbody (torso) bocomes so heavy, unable to stand or seat upright. impossible to walk, even with cructh. I do alot of core exercise like plank, drawing in belly button, cruches, superman.

    But nothing seems to help this problem. Just started to see a neru physio, working on my muscle control, hoping this will help.

    I am just asking if you know any exercises to help with this problem.

    Great work you are doing.



  27. Dr. Rudy,
    I am in need of overall advice on all the procedures I am doing. I hope I am moving in the right direction. I have had a veniogram which showed I had thoracic oultlet syndrome and definite narrowing of my veins. Had a venoplasty. Felt a difference for 2 to 3 days. Then had a left rib resection. No real change.Had another venoplasty, no real change. Then did right rib resection. Then another venoplasty. No real change. Do not want sents put in. Now I am checking my legs out and having a angiogram to see why my leg ultrasound test came out so strange.
    I have done diet, exercise and supplements. Felt pretty good for years. Then slowly my balance has gotten worse and fatigue with my legs has slowly taken over, restricting my exercise.Then I heard about the link between thoracic outlet syndrome, ms, and ccsvi..That is where I am today.

    Definitely need some coaching and would like to know if I can enlist your help. Thank you, Margie

  28. I am 58 yo woman, dx in ’92. Until one year ago walked some with rollator. Fell and broke femur, now trying to work with p.t. to regain core strength, slow but sure. I totally believe that exercising and weights are both crucial and beneficial. DEFINITELY HELPS MENTALLY TOO! I ALSO use the NuStep recumbant trainer at therapy and plan to own one somehow.

  29. Absolutely! When I ditched my meds and joined the YMCA, I made a 360 comeback! No one would even know I have MS now when before I the doc thought I was heading toward SPMS. I started off with a short time inside on the treadmill and weight machines (at the lowest setting I think I also did water aerobics when it started up a month after I joined the gym. It was a perfect way to regain some balance and strength to go on to do bigger and better things. Now, almost 3 years later, I still do water aerobics from time to time for old-time’s sake, but I do step aerobics and Body Pump as well as ZUMBA! I never would have thought that I could get to this point. It is so exciting and I try to help others who are in my support group to understand that just doing a few minutes a day can build up into regaining your life…but it doesn’t happen overnight! PLEASE, even if you exercise in your wheelchair or from a chair, you CAN regain the feeling and muscle that you may have lost from sitting and thinking you can’t do it. I am living proof:) Good Strength to All!

  30. I like this site so much, saved to bookmarks. “Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man.” by Norman Cousins.

  31. dear dr. cartright
    many thanks for all your help,just 1 question, i have a 9mm lession in between my 3rd and 4th vertebra would weight training and yoga cause a problem in my neck
    kind regards
    kay jones

  32. Pingback: Why is the eliptical cross trainer such hard work but burns few calories? - Exercise Bike and Cross Trainer

  33. * Dear Dr Cartright,

    Thank you for your help in my quest to fight MS. I have to admit that all the information that i received from you or read on your webside was very helpfull and thank you for that. The strange thing is that our specialists on MS here they didnt tell me anything. Whatever i know is from you and thank you.


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