GET PHYSICAL: Exercises to Boost Wellness When You Have Multiple Sclerosis

Lisa A. McCombs
4 min readAug 10, 2022
Photo by Gabin Vallet on Unsplash

MS is an unpredictable disease, and every day is different, which can make staying active challenging. Preaching to the choir again, right?


It is challenging.

Exercise takes time out of my day.

It’s no fun doing it alone.

Joining a gym is expensive.

It’s hard.

I don’t know what exercises to do.

I’m too tired.


Exercise IS a challenge for many people, not just those suffering from multiple sclerosis; but the rewards far outweigh the challenge. Start small and slowly add reps to your selected exercises.

Consistency is the key. I’m on week four of my most recent self-challenge. I do 20+ sit-to-stands, 20 squats, 20 individual leg lifts, 20 overhead bicep pushes, 20 tennis ball exchanges, and 20 Russian twists. I began with 10 of each and added reps each week. These are all done seated, except the squats.

I also practice the exercises I learned in PT: standing leg lifts to the front, the side, and the back (20 each); heal raises (30); side-to-sidestepping (20 back-and-forth-and-forth; marching place (as many reps as I can plus one to grow on. I dislike marching but I realize the importance:).

When I go to bed at night, I perform 50 partial sit-ups before rolling over on my stomach, legs straight out, to bend each foot up. Since I have foot drop, my right side is REALLY CHALLENGING. I do what I can.

No, I do not do these exercises in one session. I spread them throughout the day. And, no, I do not always do them all.

That’s where accountability comes into play.


Organized training facilities are an expense we often cannot justify. Multiple sclerosis is a bougie disease, causing our bank accounts anguish. Prescriptions, doctor visits, physical and occupational therapy, walking aids, hired help, hospital stays…

An affordable alternative (as long as you access the program) is The MS Gym.

Trevor Wicken is an inspirational, knowledgeable coach who educates as he guides his “Gymmers” through individually assigned ability maps.

I am not an affiliate, nor do I receive compensation for advertising The MS Gym. I believe in Trevor and his practice. As a paid “gymmer” you will also belong to The Members Corner on Face Book where MSers converse, vent, advise one another, and ask questions. We are a tightly knit community.

You aren't alone. It's surprising how many online friends you will meet, which strengthens exercise accountability.


Find a workout buddy online and commit to weekly check-ins. Reward one another at the completion of a goal. Encourage and celebrate effort. Remember: ANY MOVEMENT IS A GOOD MOVEMENT.


We know MS Warriors are known for an elevated level of fatigue, so why do we want to add more to the mix?

According to Medical News Today, exercise improves the body’s ability to circulate oxygen, which improves the body’s energy levels. A lack of exercise may eventually cause deconditioning, making it harder and more tiring to perform a physical task.


When contemplating an exercise routine, be realistic. Balance limitations and realistic expectations.

I was an aerobics instructor for many years. I LOVED exercise. When I wasn’t teaching at the Wellness Center, I danced around my living room experimenting with additional physical moves.

I walked 5–7 miles a week and enjoyed mountain hikes.

I went out dancing every weekend.

Now I'm happy to lift one foot at a time. I haven’t danced in years. If I put in 300 steps a day, I sing the Rocky theme song. Life got real on D-Day.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Give yourself homework and feel comfortable with the assignment before pushing forward. Commit to a plan that is shared with your workout buddies to build accountability.

If you need an incentive, promise yourself a prize.

My husband and are flying to Arizona to see our son at the end of the month. We’ve been there before and I have been preparing myself for the heat. (Arizona might have DRY heat, but heat is heat!) Daily exercise will hopefully lay a foundation for the additional physical activity to come. This trip is my incentive.

A tribute to one of the most inspiring women of the 21st century. Click here for Olivia Newton-John to “get physical”.

Keep moving,

Lisa, The Lady With the Cane


Lisa A. McCombs