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New Study: Regular Exercise Helps to Maintain Brain Tissue Volume in People with MS

July 29, 2020

In a study of 153 people with MS, those who regularly engaged in physical activity maintained brain tissue volume in an area of the brain linked to learning and memory, compared with people who did not regularly exercise. This study adds to the growing body of evidence that exercise has many benefits for people with MS. Physical activities and exercise are options for ALL people with MS, regardless of disability level - learn more about specific recommendations and helpful videos.
  • In this study, participants underwent imaging scans of various regions of the brain. They also completed questionnaires assessing the frequency of strenuous (e.g., jogging), moderate (e.g., fast walking), and mild (e.g., easy walking) exercise for periods of more than 15 minutes per week during an individual’s free time.
  • People whose scores indicated regular activity maintained tissue volume in a region of the brain called the “hippocampus,” which is associated with learning and consolidating memories. Those people who did not regularly participate in exercise tended to have lower hippocampus volumes.
  • The National MS Society recently convened a group of experts in the fields of MS, exercise, rehabilitation, and physical activity to review available studies and develop recommendations for healthcare providers who can advise individuals with MS at all disability levels. Learn more
  • The COVID-19 pandemic makes some exercise goals difficult to achieve. The Centers for Disease Control provide some advice for overcoming barriers to increasing physical activity.
“The importance of physical activity to preserve hippocampal volume in people with multiple sclerosis: a structural MRI study” by Alon Kalron, PhD, PT (Tel-Aviv University, Tel‑Aviv, Israel) and colleagues was published July 22 in the Journal of Neurology.
 

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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