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Interval Exercise success

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  • Interval Exercise success

    I want to share a success story that hopefully others can benefit from. I was previously very active/athletic. I played sports and loved competing. I haven't been able to run/walk/bike meaningfully for last 15 years since MS. Cardio was not feasible due to fatigue, heat, and balance. My MS is progressive and I was diagnosed 18 years ago. I still lift weights regularly and practice yoga, but no cardio.... Until a few months ago.

    Our gym has ellipticals and has a rope resistance machine with a seat. I chose them because both involved large muscle groups, didn't require balance and the rope machine had a seat. I figured I could do some amount so started with 5 minutes on each one. Then I built up gradually to 5-6 sets of each per session. I rested 3-4 minutes between each set to manage temp and fatigue. I also brought ice water to drink, took 2 aspirin ahead of workout, and wet my shirt in cold water to promote cooling/evaporation since I don't really sweat anymore. I also eat 1/2 peanut butter sandwich before leaving for the gym. This was all very helpful. If my shirt dries out, I go back to the bathroom and re-soak it. Each week I tried to increase another 15 seconds(so, 5min, 5:15, 5:30, ...). Yesterday I did 6 9-minute sets of each (rope and elliptical). I keep my heart rate at 60-85% of max ( at 52 years old, that's 100-140 beats/min). It's a strenuous workout and I'd recommend that you plan for it. I usually take it pretty easy afterwards on days that I exercise. I'd also recommend that you start slowly and increase gradually, even if you feel good. Building cardio takes time. Of course, I still also do my daily shots. I'm committed to training like an athlete because I can't bear to lose anymore.

    I've lost 10-15 pounds of fat and my legs and core have gained strength and muscle. I am working out 3-4 times per week allowing at least one rest day and stretching/yoga/golf practice on off days. This is a very challenging workout and now takes me 3 hours at the gym including breaks. However, I have noticed numerous other benefits. My bladder function and sexual function are improved. My sleep is better. I'm hopeful and excited to see where this leads. It's so rare with MS that anything physical actually improves.

    I'd love to hear if others have similar stories or feedback if you try something like this.

    I thought it might be instructive to give a clearer picture of my initial and current states so you could extrapolate to your situation. Clearly, MS symptoms and progression are individual, but I'd want to know this info. You're never going to meet me so I'm going to be descriptive.

    Initial State
    52 yr old male, 5'10", 205 lbs, diagnosed in 2000, otherwise good health
    Bladder - Go through 6 Depends/day. 3 at night and 3 during day. Use cranberry pills to mostly fight off UTIs.
    Sexual function - Need multiple Viagra and grapefruit juice with mixed results. No random erections.
    Mobility - Can walk maybe 1/4 mile at a time, but avoid stairs. Always use railings. Random toe drop. Spasticity. Balance issues. If I walk 1/4 mile, am subject to tripping/falling.
    Heat - No longer sweat except for feet. Fatigue if I overheat. Sensitive to sun.
    Cognitive - Was a technology and finance person until layoff this year. Good at puzzles(crossword, sudoko, kenken), intermediate Bridge player, learning French, good at Jeopardy/trivia.
    Exercise - Weightlifting, Yoga stretching, Golf with cart
    Sleep - Wake up 2-3x / night to use bathroom. Typically 7-8 hours.
    Diet - Mostly fruits and vegetables. 0-3 servings of fish, eggs, rarely meat per week. Wine or a Manhattan 2-5/week. Low cholesterol/trigs.
    Attitude - Pretty good. Good social network. Bit of no job stress, but considering retirement.

    Current state after 3 months - 192 lbs
    Bladder - Go through 3-5 Depends/day. 1-2 at night and 2-3 during day. Use cranberry pills to mostly fight off UTIs.
    Sexual function - Random erections. 2-3x/week.
    Mobility - Better on stairs. Haven't tried to go farther yet.
    Heat - Not aware of a change yet. Planning to lose more body fat to mitigate heat impact.
    Cognitive - Not aware of a change.
    Exercise - Routine above 3x/week, Weightlifting 1x/week, Yoga stretching, Golf with cart
    Sleep - Wake up 1x / night to use bathroom. Typically 8-9 hours.
    Diet - No change.
    Attitude - More optimistic/hopeful. Jazzed about progress. Still no job.
    Last edited by Hondo; 08-23-2018, 05:52 PM.

  • #2
    Exercise vs. beer

    Not really the same situation as yours, Hondo, but I will sing the praises of exercise. I went through a bone marrow transplant in 2001 and have been in remission ever since. Going into the BMT, I could only play 4 to 6 holes of golf while my buddies were playing all 18. (Great! friends to keep playing with me as I went downhill.)

    Coming out of the BMT, I went to a physical therapist for three years to relearn walking. At the end of that, she said, "I've taught you all you need to know. You just need to get stronger. Join a gym." So, I did. I've been doing a combination of endurance training and resistance training ever since. I got back to playing 18 holes of golf about 2010. My bladder definitely holds more. But, my weight has gone up by 15 lbs.

    OK, a small part of that is muscle density vs. fat, but most of it is beer. Those evil carbs. First, a German restaurant serving craft beer opened. Loved those brats = an extra 7 lbs. Then, at about the same time, both a craft beer pub with 23 taps and a microbrewery with high quality restaurant opened. Another 8 lbs. I'd be better off at 175 than 190, but I've got to say, I'm lovin' life.

    Prost, Craig


    • #3

      Oops, forgot to include what I started out for.

      I only recently learned about High Intensity Interval Training. I'm trying to integrate it into the end of my training sessions using an elliptical machine to run. I ended up hurting myself twice using the jog for a minute, go as fast as you can for a minute technique. I asked the head trainer at the gym what he thought about my situation and HIIT. He said people with coordination deficits should run the resistance up to max for the high intensity portion, then back down for the resting portion. Just getting started with that; so far, so good.



      • #4
        Cardio interval update

        I wanted to provide an update on training:
        1. I dialed my intervals back to 8 minutes each. As I got closer to 10 minutes, I noticed feeling sluggish and fear I may have been overtraining. I will stay here going forward and look to slowly increase intensity by the week/month.
        2. I am doing at least 5 sets of both elliptical and rope training each day. If I feel strong on a particular day I do 6.
        3. I am resting 4-7 minutes between sets. With MS, it's so important to not go over the cliff on your energy.
        4. I am still working out every other day and continuing to improve. I'm noticing that I can do a bit more at the same heart rate each week.
        5. I am slowly increasing the resistance level on the elliptical trainer. For example, going up one level for one of the sets on one day. Then going up to that level for 2 sets after that. Then continue until I can do all of them at that level. I start with the last set of the day(the 5th or 6th or 7th one.) I'm getting a bit better definition on both upper and lower body. My goal is to lose fat to be less impacted by Summer heat and to be able to do more things easier.

        Remember, Summer bodies are made in the Winter. You can do this. If you're reading this, you have to try it.
        Last edited by Hondo; 03-30-2018, 03:07 PM.


        • #5

          this is fabulous that you have improved so much ...congratulations...this is so great...keep up all the great work and so fun to see someone with this great of progress i am so proud...


          • #6
            Thanks for the inspiration Hondo.
            I have gotten out of my workout habit in the past 3 years and I am having a hard time recommitting myself. Lot's of "life stuff" has happened in the past 3 years and I am having a difficult time pulling myself back.
            I am a 54 year old female and was diagnosed in 1998. I still work full time and my job is very stressful and I work OT, which can exhaust me. I know that working out will give me more energy but . . .
            No more "buts" your sharing really motivated me to just do a little each day and build on that. I have found myself in the "I used to be able to" and then just giving up. I am worth more, thanks for helping me see that clearer!


            • #7
              I try to do HIIT two or three times a week (no more). Because it is quick, even when time is short for a workout, I can get in a session. The only trick I have now is NOT doing HIIT every time I exercise, as too much is not recommended.

              Oh, and like Craig, I enjoy my craft beer, too!
              Dave Bexfield


              • #8
                Thatís some seriously good exercise Hondo.
                I found resistance training either body weight or free weights massively strengthened the core plus I dropped bodyfat from almost 30 to 23 now targeting 19. One of best simple ones for me was farmers walk on stairs with a 2 push-ups each round. Also mostly on the oms diet so ironically Iíve never been healthier since diagnosed.

                I took big inspiration from something Arnie said - thereís always an excuse.


                • #9

                  Thanks for all who have seen and included their supportive comments. They have been super motivating for me. I really want to know if anyone is trying this as well. I really think that I'm onto something, but would like other perspectives.

                  Here's my update. I'm continuing to improve since I last posted. The elliptical that I'm training on is a Cybex Arc Trainer. I'm still doing 5 sets of 8 minutes plus 5 sets of 8 minutes on the rope machine. The elliptical default resistance is level 15. After a few weeks I did a set at level 16, then 2 sets, then up to 5 sets at level 16. After accommodating for a few weeks I tried to move up to the next level in the same way. I'm now on level 25. It's a lot harder than level 15. There are many more levels and I will keep working up to see where this goes.

                  Personal Impacts:
                  1. I'm getting stronger and I can see a bit more muscle on my upper and lower body. I've lost a bit more fat.
                  2. I take an afternoon nap or go to sleep early on workout days. I also don't workout on consecutive days. I tried it, but the day off rest is necessary.
                  3. I'm functioning a bit better. No falls or trips. I can do more on non-exercise days. My bladder is a bit better. I really look forward to exercise days because I see concrete feedback on my physical improvement. It's inspiring.
                  Nothing earth shattering, but everything is a little bit better. Now ask yourself, when did you say that since being diagnosed?

                  That's all for now. I'll check back in a few months. I am reading comments and really do want to hear if anyone else tries this.


                  • #10
                    15 seconds

                    Remember to start where ever you can (8 min, 6 min, 4 min?, whatever). Work at that duration until you can do it at least 3 sets at that time with rest periods in between. Then add 15 seconds to your time. Because whatever you can do, you can do for 15 seconds more, right? Then when that duration becomes normal, just ratchet it up another 15 seconds.

                    You can do this.


                    • #11
                      hondo, thanks for your post...was very active but at 65 and 47 years of ms have slowed down. Ocrevus has been very positive after only the first infusion, and I've regained some motion, will try your suggestion to get back to cardio level workouts. thanks


                      • #12
                        Variety and Summer heat (oh joy)

                        I hope you're starting to get some cardio in. I don't think there's an alternative if you're trying to maximize your health. Some important thoughts:
                        1. Dial the intensity back during these hot summer days. Do your workouts, something every day if you can, but ease back on both the intensity and duration while the sun is baking us. Still try to get at least 35 min during cardio days, but lower the resistance, break up your sets, wet your tshirt a bit for evaporative cooling, drink ice water and rest in between sets.
                        2. Variety - To keep it fresh, do some cardio days with legs focus, some with upper body focus and some mixed upper and lower body. For example, do 4 sets of 8 min on a bike or elliptical, then another day do 4 sets of 8 min on a rope or hand ergometer, then 4 sets of 8 min on an elliptical, or have some days where you do 2 sets of upper and 2 sets of lower body work.

                        It's enough of a challenge to make sure you stay on track, while its hot so don't overdo it. Just keep working. On off cardio days, add some strength and/or flexibility training. Weight lifting(arm curls, bench presses, leg squats, ab/adductors) or Flexibility (yoga, pilates) make a great compliment.


                        • #13
                          September update

                          I'm excited to report that the Summer heat is breaking in the Northwest and progress is in the air. I've continued to work on the elliptical and rope, but have been able to add a bit of yoga and some dumbbell work.

                          The results:
                          1. I haven't fallen this year.
                          2. I've golfed since high school and at 52 with 18 years of MS, just shot my lowest round ever (81!) on consecutive Saturdays. That's about 10 strokes below my handicap. Golf combines power, balance, creativity and managing emotions so I'm really jazzed about this.
                          3. I'm stronger with each month.
                          4. I still have loads of issues, but again, when science catches up and finds a cure I want to be ready.

                          If you're doing this as well, let us know. It's hard, but it matters.


                          • #14
                            Ha, congrats on the golf score, that is a biggie! Takes core and coordination to play golf, no small thing for sure. Nice job Hondo.


                            • #15
                              Loving this thread! indeed