Closing the information gap on healthy living with MS
In 2018 MSIF set out to identify and address pressing gaps in MS information across the globe to support confident, and informed decision-making. Following a consultation with MSIF’s membership, MS organisations around the world identified eight key areas with an urgent need for clear and trustworthy MS information. One of these priority topics was healthy living and MS, as exercise, nutrition, and healthy habits all play a role in managing MS symptoms. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, this information gap started to close. As restrictions on movement increased, it became crucial for people affected by MS to have essential information on healthy living to try from home.
Three years on, MS organisations across the world have created an abundance of practical, engaging resources on healthy living with MS – from exercise tutorials with the Italian MS Society, to sleep podcasts with MS Australia. It’s time to celebrate the treasure trove of healthy living resources from the MSIF movement. Read on for tools from MS organisations to help you stay active, eat well and practice mindfulness.
Staying active is important for everyone, and people with MS are no exception. Different types of exercise can improve muscle strength, quality of life, cognitive abilities, fatigue and mood in people affected by MS. Regular exercise is recommended to help manage MS symptoms and maintain physical function. Physical activity can always be adapted to suit individual needs. Some recommended workouts for people affected by MS include; strength training, aerobic training, flexibility training and water exercise.
MS organisations have shared fantastic guides and tips to encourage everyone with MS to stay active. Explore the list below to learn basic training principles from Esclerosis Múltiple España, how to make exercise routine with the National MS Society (USA) and tips for exercising with the help of a caregiver thanks to the UK MS Society.
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Basic training principles for people with MS (Spanish)
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Managing fear of physical activity (Spanish)
- Greek MS Society – How to exercise safely with MS (Greek)
- Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego – Physical activity and physiotherapy (Polish)
- National MS Society (USA) – Wellness through exercise and lifestyle physical activity (English, Spanish)
- National MS Society (USA) – Exercise as part of everyday life (English)
- MS Ireland – Exercise and MS webinar (English)
- UK MS Society – Moving well with MS: For people with MS and their caregivers (English)
- UK MS Society – Moving more with MS (English)
- MS Australia – Exercise and MS podcast (English)
Explore exercise and MS tutorials for people of all ability levels below. Work your whole body with Scleroseforeningen (the Danish MS Soceity), keep moving with the European MS Platform and level up with the Associazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla.
- European MS Platform – Keep moving with MS 5-part series (English, German, Greek, Spanish, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Turkish, Dutch)
- Scleroseforeningen – Exercises to do while you’re seated 12-part series (Danish)
- Associazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla – Lets move together: Exercise at home 3 difficulty levels (Italian)
- MS Australia – Exercise at home class (English)
- Israel MS Society – Physical activity: exercises to do whilst seated (Arabic, English)
For some, lighter activity such as flexibility training may be a more appealing option. Yoga, Pilates and similar practices focus on strength and flexibility to improve physical and mental wellbeing. Many use flexibility training to help manage MS symptoms and relieve stress. Regular practice can make everyday activities easier by improving balance, core strength and flexibility.
MS organisations know how to take it slow and focus on mobility. Try Tai Chi with the Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego (the Polish MS Society), learn yoga fundamentals with the Japan MS Society and stretch with Esclerosis Multiple Argentina. Following along with these sessions can calm the body and mind, improve strength and balance, and promote overall wellbeing.
- Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego – Tai Chi series (Polish)
- Japan MS Society – The stretch: Yoga on a chair video and booklet (Japanese)
- Japan MS Society – The stretch: Yoga for all video and booklet (Japanese)
- MS Canada – Wellness break: Stretching and strengthening (English)
- National MS Society (USA) – Stretching and range of motion for people with MS (English)
- MS Australia – Chair yoga session (English)
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Yoga with a adaptations infographic (Spanish)
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Yoga routine against a wall (Spanish)
- Esclerosis Múltiple Argentina – Yoga and meditation booklet (Spanish)
- Esclerosis Múltiple Uruguay – Pilates session (Spanish)
- Esclerosis Múltiple Uruguay – Yoga session (Spanish)
Nutrition and MS
There are no particular diets that are proven to change the course of MS. However, food provides the essential energy that our bodies need. A well-balanced diet, low in fat and high in fibre, can help stabilise weight and improve bowel health. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet promotes overall physical wellbeing and is important for everyone.
There is a lot of misinformation about nutrition and MS online, but MS organisations have produced reliable resources to inform people affected by MS about maintaining a healthy lifestyle through nutrition, diet and supplements. Learn all about conscious eating with Esclerosis Múltiple Uruguay, discover delicious and nutritious recipes from the Israel MS Society, find out about nutritional science with the Österreichische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft (the Austrian MS Society). Check out the resources below to learn more about nutrition and MS.
- National MS Society (USA) – Ask an MS Expert: Diet and MS (English)
- National MS Society (USA) – Vitamins, minerals and herbs (English)
- Israel MS Society – Nutrition booklet: What are we eating (Arabic, Hebrew)
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Healthy diet infographic (Spanish)
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Diet and MS: Superfoods (Spanish)
- Associazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla– Nutrition and MS: What to eat (Italian)
- UK MS Society – Diet and nutrition (English)
- Österreichische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft – Healthy nutrition (German)
- MS Australia – Weight and obesity (English)
- MS Australia – Diet and nutrition in MS (English)
- Esclerosis Múltiple Uruguay – Nutrition and MS: Conscious eating and integrative nutrition (Spanish)
Wellness and self-care
Relaxation and mindfulness are useful tools, frequent practice of relaxation techniques can improve mood and help to manage other MS symptoms such as fatigue. Calm your mind with the Polish MS Society, reflect on your own self-care with Esclerosis Multiple Espana’s evaluation form, and set yourself up for the day with MS Australia. The resources below will allow you to slow down, take a breath and reflect.
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Mindfulness in everyday life
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Relaxation session for people with MS
- Esclerosis Múltiple España – Self-care evaluation form
- MS Australia – Set yourself a good morning routine (English)
- MS Society India – Benefits of meditation (English)
- Polskie Towarzystwo Stwardnienia Rozsianego – Mindfulness (Polish, English)
- Associazione Italiana Sclerosi Multipla – Mindfulness series (Italian)
Quality of sleep can also play a role in healthy living for people with MS. Sleep disturbance is more common in people with MS than in the general population and this can make MS symptoms more challenging throughout the day. Learn about how sleep impacts your body with MS Australia, learn tips and tricks for sounder sleep from MS Canada, and find out more about sleep and MS with experts from the National MS Society (USA). The resources below, provide information about sleep techniques to improve overall sleep quality and help you to feel your best.
- MS Canada – Wellness break: Tips and tricks for sounder sleep (English)
- MS Australia – Why is sleep so important for people with MS (English)
- MS Australia – Rest and self-care for fatigue management (English)
- National MS Society (USA) – Ask an MS expert: Sleep and MS (English)
- MSIF – Fatigue: An invisible symptom of MS (English, Urdu, Indonesian, Czech, Icelandic, Russian, Slovak, Serbian, Polish, Spanish, Arabic, Macedonian)
For more information and resources about healthy living and quality of life for people affected by MS, you can explore the MS Resource Hub here.
If you are an MS organisation and are interested in translating, adapting or repurposing any of these resources please do get in touch at email@example.com.