One Plan for Exercising
Get moving! The benefits of exercise for people living with MS
Exercise may help with building strength and improving your mood.1 If you are living with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), you may be concerned about having enough energy, stamina or coordination to exercise. Fortunately, there are many different ways to get exercise and different types of exercise that suit a variety of fitness levels and physical abilities. Before beginning any exercise regimen, talk to your health care professional about developing a program that's right for you.
Where to begin—talk to your health care professional
Your doctor can suggest an exercise program based on your individual situation. He or she may make recommendations on types of exercises, and on intensity and duration of workouts. You may also be referred to a physical therapist or other professional who can help customize a program for you.
With your health care professional's clearance, you may want to check out programs at your local gym, community center or MS chapter. Visit the National MS Society for more information or to find a chapter near you.
Things to consider
It may help to ask yourself some questions before you begin.
- How much time can you devote to exercise per day? Per week?
- Do you prefer exercising alone, with a friend or with a group?
- Are there exercises that you've heard about from friends?
- Do you like to be outdoors?
- Do you own any exercise equipment?
- Do you belong to a gym or other facility such as a local swimming pool?
- Are there any sports or activities you currently participate in or would like to participate in?
- Are any members of your family involved in an exercise program?
Questions like these can help you and your health care professional customize an exercise program to fit your lifestyle.
Don't sweat it
Exercise doesn't have to be strenuous and sweaty. Even daily activities like walking to the bus or performing household chores can be a form of exercise. There is a great variety of physical activities that you can engage in for as little as 30 minutes a day that may help you enjoy the benefits of exercise.2
There are so many ways to get regular physical activities, here are a few examples:
- Aerobic exercise—includes any activity that strengthens your heart and lungs, including brisk walking, biking and running.
- Swimming—offers a low-impact aerobic workout as well as the benefits of being in water. The water can help keep your body cool and comfortable, and buoyancy may help muscles to attain a greater range of motion.3
- Yoga—suitable for various fitness levels and can help build strength, endurance and flexibility.
- Pilates—based on correct body alignment and focused on coordination and muscle tone. Exercises are non-impact, non-weight bearing activities and are often performed lying down.
- Tai Chi—another gentle physical exercise. It involves a variety of postures and movements that are suitable for various fitness levels and can be performed sitting or standing. You can go at your own pace, and because there are over 100 movements and positions—it offers variety, which helps keep people engaged and motivated.
- Balance exercises—use exercise balls, balance boards and therapeutic balls to help improve stability. These exercises should be performed under the guidance of a physical therapist or other health care professional.
It may be challenging at times to keep up an exercise routine, but try to stick with it. If you miss an opportunity to incorporate exercise into your life one day, don't lose motivation. Each day offers new opportunities to incorporate aspects of wellness into your life. When you begin to exercise regularly (under your doctor's guidance), you may find that you really appreciate its benefits and gain greater motivation to stay with it.
How can exercise help manage your MS symptoms?
Exercise may help you manage some symptoms of your multiple sclerosis (MS), including:
- improving bowel and bladder function4
- reducing depression4
- improving posture and balance.4
Play it safe
If you and your health care professional have come up with an exercise plan for you, that's great! But don't forget to take a few precautions so you can work out safely and comfortably.
- Always warm up before exercising, and cool down at the end.
- Work out on a skid-resistant floor. Avoid throw rugs.
- Listen to your body. If you start to hurt or feel sick, stop and take a break.
Stay cool. Some people with multiple sclerosis are sensitive to heat and may notice that some MS symptoms reappear or
become worse when their body heat rises. Here are some ideas to beat the heat while exercising:
- 1. When outside, stay out of excessive direct sunlight, and try to avoid prolonged outdoor activity during the middle of the day. Early mornings or evenings may be suitable as long as there is plenty of light for you to exercise safely.
- 2. Stay hydrated.
- 3. Consider swimming as a great way to stay fit and cool at the same time.
- 4. Talk to your health care professional about tips to help deal with the heat.
Remember, you should always call your health care professional right away if you have any concerns or questions about your condition.
1. Petajan J, Gappmaier E, et al. Impact of aerobic training on fitness and quality of life in multiple sclerosis. Ann Neurol. 1996;39:432-441.
2. United States. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. USDHSS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1994;1-278.
3. White LJ, Dressendorfer R. Exercise and multiple sclerosis. Sports Med. 2004;34(15):1077-1100. http://www.direct-ms.org/pdf/GeneralInfoMS/ExerciseAndMS.pdf. Accessed April 20, 2010.
Rebif® (interferon beta-1a) is used to treat relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of relapses and delay the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. Rebif is not approved for treatment of chronic progressive MS.
Important safety information
What is the most important information I should know about Rebif?
Rebif will not cure multiple sclerosis (MS) but it has been shown to decrease the number of flare-ups and slow the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. Rebif can cause serious side effects, so before you start taking Rebif, you should talk with your doctor about the possible benefits of Rebif and its possible side effects to decide if Rebif is right for you. Potential serious side effects include:
- Depression. Some patients treated with interferons, including Rebif, have become seriously depressed (feeling sad). Some patients have thought about killing themselves and a few have committed suicide. Depression (a sinking of spirits or sadness) is not uncommon in people with multiple sclerosis. However, if you are feeling noticeably sadder or helpless, or feel like hurting yourself or others, you should tell a family member or friend right away and call your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may ask that you stop using Rebif. You should also tell your doctor if you have ever had any mental illness, including depression, and if you take any medications for depression
- Liver problems. Your liver may be affected by taking Rebif and a few patients have developed severe liver injury. Your health care provider may ask you to have regular blood tests to make sure that your liver is working properly. If your skin or the whites of your eyes become yellow or if you are bruising easily you should call your doctor right away
- Risk to pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking Rebif you should call your doctor right away. Rebif may cause you to lose your baby (miscarry) or may cause harm to your unborn child. You and your doctor will need to decide whether the potential benefit of taking Rebif is greater than the risks are to your unborn child
- Allergic reactions. Some patients taking Rebif have had severe allergic reactions leading to difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness. Allergic reactions can happen after your first dose or may not happen until after you have taken Rebif many times. Less severe allergic reactions, such as itching, flushing or skin bumps, can also happen at any time. If you think you are having an allergic reaction, stop using Rebif immediately and call your doctor
- Injection-site problems. Rebif may cause redness, pain or swelling at the place where an injection was given. Some patients have developed skin infections or areas of severe skin damage (necrosis) requiring treatment by a doctor. If one of your injection sites becomes swollen and painful or the area looks infected and it doesn’t heal within a few days, you should call your doctor. For more information, please see Medication Guide
Who should not take Rebif?
Do not take Rebif if you:
- Have had an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, flushing, or hives, to another interferon beta or to human albumin
If you have any of the following conditions or serious medical problems, you should tell your doctor before taking Rebif:
- Depression (a sinking feeling or sadness), anxiety (feeling uneasy or fearful for no reason), or trouble sleeping
- Liver diseases
- Problems with your thyroid gland
- Blood problems, such as bleeding or bruising easily, and anemia (low red blood cells) or low white blood cells
- Are planning to become pregnant
Tell your doctor about all medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements. Rebif and other medicines may affect each other, causing serious side effects. Talk to your doctor before you take any new medicines.
What are the possible side effects of Rebif?
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, sweating, muscle aches and tiredness)
- Skin reactions. Soreness, redness, pain, bruising, or swelling may occur at the place of injection
- Depression and anxiety. Some patients taking interferons have become very depressed and/or anxious
- Liver problems
- Abdominal pain
- Blood problems. You may have a drop in the levels of infection-fighting blood cells, red blood cells or cells that help to form blood clots. If the drop in levels is severe, it can lessen your ability to fight infections, make you feel tired or sluggish or cause you to bruise or bleed easily
- Thyroid problems. Your thyroid function may change. Symptoms of changes in the function of your thyroid include feeling cold or hot all the time, change in your weight (gain or loss) without a change in your diet or amount of exercise you are getting
- Severe allergic reactions. Allergic reactions are rare and may be associated with difficulty in breathing and loss of consciousness, which require immediate medical attention
Let your doctor know if you have any of these symptoms or feel sad, tired, hot or cold, or experience hives, rashes, bruising, yellowing of the skin, or a change in body weight (gain or loss).
Refer to the Instructions for Use that comes with the Rebif® Rebidose® (interferon beta-1a) autoinjector.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit
This information is not intended to replace discussions with your doctor. For additional information about Rebif, please consult the Prescribing Information and Medication Guide and talk to your doctor. You can also visit www.rebif.com or call toll-free 1-877-447-3243. Rebif is available by prescription only.
MS LifeLines is an educational support service for people living with MS and their families. Speakers and MS LifeLines Ambassadors who participate in Talk MS or in live events are sponsored by EMD Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc. Rebif, Rebif Rebidose, Rebiject II, MS LifeLines, and the Rebif logo are registered trademarks of EMD Serono, Inc. or its affiliates.
Brought to you by EMD Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc, the co-marketers of Rebif in the US.
This information is intended only for residents of the United States.