Resistance Training can Help MS Patients?
A recent study was published by Aarhus University showing the benefits of resistance exercise training for patients with Multiple Sclerosis! WHOA DUDE!
What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ?
MS has the ability to completely disable a person through using a persons own immune system to attack the Myelin, a protective sheath found around the nerve fibers of the Central Nervous System (CNS). Nerve fibers are responsible for communication between the brain and the rest of the body so when the Myelin is destroyed, communication becomes distorted. This disease can eventually lead to the deterioration and permanent damage of nerves.
Not all patients suffering from MS experience the disease in the same way. A persons experience depends on what nerves are being targeted and the extent of the nerve damage. People who suffer long periods of symptoms can experience the inability to independently walk or move. People with MS can also experience long periods of remission (no symptoms)(2).
As of today we do not know the cause of this disease and we do not have a cure. People in the lime light you may know that suffer from this disease include the famous comedian Richard Pryor, Country singer Clay Walker, TV Personality Montel Williams, Ozzy Osbourne's son Jack Osbourne as well as others.
It was commonly thought that excessive activity such as resistance training may exacerbate the symptoms caused by MS until Aarhus University came out with a study looking at the effects of resistance training on the MRI of, “relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis,” in a 2017 journal issue of Multiple Sclerosis.
The research partnership included the Aarhus University and hospital, the University of Southern Denmark and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. The study included 35 participants with MS followed over the course of six months split into two groups (how they split 35 participants must be magic :D). Half the group did resistance exercise training while the others did not. Participants had an MRI prior to the start of the study and concluding the study. Scientists found that those patients that were a part of the resistance training group had less brain shrinkage than those that did not do the resistance training, they even saw brain growth in select patients in response to the resistance training which is fucking rad! All together scientists saw a decrease in brain shrinkage accompanied by some brain growth in a small percentage of participants, they saw an increase in patients ability to walk, a decrease in their levels of fatigue, and an increase in muscle strength and aerobic capacity.
HOW DOES RESISTANCE TRAINING HELP MS?
They have no idea. Associate Professor Ulrik Dalgas from the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University, a researcher on this project theorizes that this form of exercise somehow protects the nervous system (brain and spinal chord) from the disease. Ulrik Dalgas wants to stress that the aim of the ongoing research is not to replace medication with physical training, but to lead to improved treatment options such as hybrid treatments of a physical exercise and pharmaceutical regimen. Physical training has not been explored enough to say it can be beneficial for all MS patients so you will have to stay tuned for that one folks! More in-depth studies with more participants is necessary before anything can be said definitively.
This is SO COOL! I remember as a child coming home from school, my mother watching Montel Williams and him oscillating from a tall healthy man, to a feeble man in a wheel chair. I would ask my mom what was up with that. MS is a horrible disease so it makes me incredibly happy the scientific community is making some headway towards crushing it to smithereens.
What do you think could be causing this? I know, “physical exercise induces inflammation, a physiological response that is part of immune system activity and promotes tissue remodeling after exercise overload.” (3) With that being said, what if just the act of exercising diverts the immune systems resources to repairing the body from exercise rather than destroying the Myelin? This is over my head to actually know, but how interesting right? Theorize and comment below!!!
WHAT IS RESISTANCE TRAINING?
Different types of resistance training include:
- Free weights – dumbbells or barbells
- Weight machines – devices that have adjustable seats with handles attached either to weights or hydraulics
- Medicine balls
- Resistance bands – like giant rubber bands – these provide continuous resistance throughout a movement and are super cheap.
- Your own body weight – can be used for squats, push-ups and chin-ups, GET CREATIVE!