There are things you can do today and every day to keep yourself as healthy as possible and help how you live with multiple sclerosis (MS). Even if you’re not currently experiencing symptoms of MS, talk to your healthcare team about healthy lifestyle choices you can make—and how to manage any other chronic conditions you may have.
Ways to keep yourself as healthy as possible with MS
Take a look at some of the ways you can slow down the progression of MS and relieve both physical and cognitive symptoms of the disease. You’ll also find ways to help maintain your brain’s
neurological reserve—a unique ability that can help delay MS symptoms. Ask your doctor which of these are right for you. Quality sleep is important for health
Lack of sleep can lead to physical issues (such as trouble with balance) as well as cognitive issues (such as worsening of memory, difficulty concentrating, or trouble thinking of the right word). Getting at least 7 hours of restful sleep each night is important.
Exercise can help with managing MS symptoms
Higher levels of aerobic fitness are associated with faster information processing. Studies of aerobic exercise programs for people with MS showed improvements in physical flexibility and strength, cardiovascular fitness, and bladder and bowel function, as well as reduced levels of fatigue. So talk to your doctor about ways to stay as active as you can.
Being social stimulates your brain
Being socially active by spending time with others is good for your brain. If you’re looking for ideas, try volunteering, becoming part of an MS support group, or joining a book club. If you can’t get together in person, you can still meet friends and family online for social activities such as virtual classes or group chats.
The right diet can reduce inflammation
You may benefit from eating foods low in fat and cholesterol, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. The Mediterranean diet is one approach you and your doctor may consider. It includes healthy foods like fish, whole grains, and leafy vegetables.
Staying hydrated may help your energy level
Fatigue is a common symptom of MS, and dehydration may make it worse. If you’re consuming fewer fluids because you’re concerned about bladder issues, talk to your doctor about it. It could be affecting your energy level.
Vitamin D may improve cognitive performance
Since vitamin D may impact cognitive function in people with MS, ask your doctor if you’re getting the right amount.
Smoking can make MS symptoms worse
Smoking is also associated with cognitive issues and a decrease in brain matter. If you smoke, ask your doctor about ways you can quit.
Keeping your brain active may help with neurological reserve
Activities such as reading, writing, and playing board games may help enhance your neurological reserve.
Mindfulness can help with MS symptoms—and stress
Mindfulness is a state of active and open attention to the present. When you’re being “mindful,” you are observing your thoughts and feelings without judging them in any way.
Meditation can help provide relief from stress—and MS symptoms Yoga can help strengthen joints and muscles and relieve anxiety. Yoga can even be done while sitting in a bed or wheelchair Breathing exercises (or focusing on breathing) can help you feel calmer and relax your body
Talk to your healthcare professional before participating in any new activity. Managing other conditions you have can help
It’s important to manage other chronic health conditions you may have in addition to MS. Leaving other conditions unmanaged can lead to more MS relapses and a quicker progression of physical disability. It’s important to talk to a healthcare professional about treating all the conditions you may have.
Common chronic health issues for people with MS: Heart disease High blood pressure High cholesterol Diabetes Depression Chronic lung disease