Yoga and aquatic exercise can reduce multiple sclerosis in women

aquatic exercise

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease in which the covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage can disrupt the ability of the nervous system to communicate, and lead to a range of physical and mental problems.

Specific symptoms include double vision, blindness in one eye, muscle weakness, trouble with sensation, and trouble with coordination.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for multiple sclerosis. Most treatments attempt to improve function after an attack and prevent new attacks.

In a recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers find that yoga or aquatic exercising, in addition to regulatory medication can reduce multiple sclerosis symptoms in women.

University of Basel, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, and Isfahan University of Medical Sciences conducted the study.

Researchers recruited 44 women with multiple sclerosis in the study. These participants received 8 weeks of yoga, aquatic exercise, or non-exercise treatment, in addition to regulatory medication.

All participants reported their symptoms of fatigue, depression, and paresthesia (abnormal skin sensations) before and after the training.

Researchers found that compared with the non-exercise group, the yoga and aquatic exercise groups showed much lower fatigue, depression, and paresthesia.

In addition, after the training program, the ratio of moderate to severe depression was higher in the non-exercise group than in the yoga and aquatic exercising groups.

Researchers suggest that for females with multiple sclerosis and treated with standard immune regulatory medication, exercise-training programs such as yoga and aquatic exercising can have positive impacts on core symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

This is good news for public health, because multiple sclerosis is the most common autoimmune disorder. In 2013, about 2.3 million people were affected globally.

If exercise-training programs can be considered in the future as possible complements to standard treatments, more people with multiple sclerosis will enjoy the benefits.

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Citation: Brand S, et al. (2016). Exercising Impacts on Fatigue, Depression, and Paresthesia in Female Patients with Multiple Sclerosis. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 48: 796. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000834.
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.