New exercise classes in Belfast for people with multiple sclerosis

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A new MS exercise class has been launched in Belfast to help local people living with the condition to get active.

The class will take place at Cregagh Youth and Community Centre every Wednesday from September 10 to October 15, 2014 from 7pm – 8pm. The class has been funded by the MS Society in conjunction with Active Communities.

4000 people live with multiple sclerosis in Northern Ireland, one of the highest rates in the world. MS attacks at random and many of the symptoms are invisible to others. Symptoms vary but may include problems with balance and walking, loss of vision, pain and fatigue.

This new exercise class comes as research suggests that short bouts of exercise could be the key to managing some MS symptoms.

Research published by the University of East Anglia and funded by the MS Society in 2014 has found that short periods of moderate intensity exercise, like walking or steady cycling can improve fatigue levels and quality of life in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The EXIMS (pragmatic EXercise Intervention for people with MS) study found regular exercise improved fatigue levels and saw sustained improvements in quality of life including emotional wellbeing.

Dawn Harrison, Neuro-physiotherapist at the MS Society said: “Fatigue in MS is an incredibly common but troubling symptom that can hugely affect an individual’s quality of life. Regular exercise can be very effective in managing this and other symptoms such as problems with balance, mobility and low mood. The classes focus on functional exercises designed to improve posture, mobility and overall strength which can help with every day tasks like walking up or down stairs, standing at the kitchen sink or getting in and out of a car. Everyone is welcome and carers may also attend”.

David Agnew, 52, from Belfast has MS and already attends the MS Society exercise class at Grove Well-Being Centre:

“The best thing about the class for me is the camaraderie and friendship that I have developed with people going through the same thing as I am.  It’s great to meet new people and at the same time take part in an exercise programme tailored to meet my needs.

“Taking part in the exercise class is not like turning on a switch and being able to suddenly run a marathon again but I have noticed subtle differences in my core strength and stability. I would recommend the exercise class to anyone affected by MS, I would say just grit your teeth and give it a go, that’s what I did and I’m glad I did”.

For more information or to register for this class please contact Dawn Harrison, Neuro-physiotherapist at the MS Society by calling 028 90 802 802  or email dawn.harrison@mssociety.org.uk

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