38 msfocusmagazine.org Symptom Management Research is clear that exercise can help people with MS. Persons with MS who en- gage in exercise programs will have better walking, balance, endurance, and physical performance in general than those who don’t exercise. Additionally, those who exercise have better moods, and less depression and anxiety than those who don’t. However, many people with MS do not exercise, or do not exercise correctly. Moreover, different types of exercise can serve different pur- poses. How do you know what kind of exer- cise is right for you? The Purpose of Exercise Exercise can be divided into two broad categories: exercise for wellness and exercise for specific goals. Both are important, but each serves a slightly different purpose. Exercise for wellness is based on the idea that anytype of exercisewill result in improved health and well-being, especially in persons who normally do not exercise. Because people with MS generally do not exercise as much as those who don’t have MS, exercise forwellness is a good idea because it will improve their overall health. Generally speaking, persons with MS who engage in a regular exercise program will have better health than those who do not.Therefore, theywill be less affected by the disease itself. MS is an illness that almost always leads to decreased movement. A sedentary lifestyle is almost certain to make the course of the disease worse, and therefore exercise of any type can decrease the chance of that happening. However, the limitation of exercise for wellness is that it does not target any specific area, while people with MS may require exercises that target very specific symptoms. For example, if a person with MS has very tight orweak leg muscles limiting their ability to walk, then exercise for their arms will not improve their walking; it will improve their arm strength, and that’s a good thing, but it will have little or no effect on their walking. To improve specific activities that are affected by MS, specific exercises must be done. This brings us to the second type of exercise, which we can call specific exercise. Specific exercise refers to exercise that is done for a specific reason, to address a specific problem. In the same way that a physician gives you specific medications to address specific symptoms (penicillin for infections, aspirin for a headache), exercise for persons with MS must be specific to the problem they are experiencing. For an example, let’s look at foot drop a common problem people with MS have with walking. In foot drop, the muscles of the calf get extremely tight, and the muscles in the The Two Types of Exercise for People with MS By Herb Karpatkin