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Alternative supported exercise options for people with MS

Our Helpline team have written about alternative places to exercise with multiple sclerosis (MS) in this blog...

If you don’t live near an MS therapy centre or any of the other options mentioned in our last blog there will likely be other avenues of support. There is a raft of disability specific organisations, leisure centres and gyms that work with people with additional needs and support them to exercise and maintain physical wellbeing.

Some examples we know of are:

  • I-Can therapy centres. These have power assisted exercise options in both Sheffield in Yorkshire and Andover in Hampshire. These new centres are open to anyone of any ability and age. They have specialist equipment and trained staff experienced with working with people with diverse needs.
  • The West Berkshire Therapy Centre. This is a non-for-profit specialised therapy gym for people with disabilities in west Berkshire and surrounding areas. The Therapy Centre comprises a gym equipped with power assisted exercise equipment including a multimaster and exercise bikes.
  • BASIC (Brain and Spinal Injury Charity) based in Manchester offers a range of support to people with a neurological condition including their ‘Body BASIC gym’. The gym has a suite of power assisted exercise equipment and is specifically designed for people with physical disabilities who need to exercise but could not or would not access a conventional gym.
  • Ability Bow. This is based in East London and has weekly ‘NeuroAbility’ gym sessions specifically for people with neurological conditions. All of their equipment is accessible to people with a disability and they even have an accessible sauna.
  • Pop-up gym. This is based in Gateshead in the North East and aims to make exercise accessible to people who use a wheelchair. They have a range of equipment including access to FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) cycling systems, an accessible multi gym, standing frames and more.
  • The Chaseley Trust. This is an organisation that supports people with disabilities. They have residential services and also offer neurological rehabilitation. Along with this they also have their ‘Activate Gym’. This gym environment is set up to be as accessible as it can be and is geared towards people who use wheelchairs. The gym is well equipped with power assisted equipment as well as more conventional gym and physiotherapy equipment.
  • The Feelgood Centre Grangemouth in Scotland. This is available to anyone with a disability or long term condition and is equipped with power assisted exercise equipment that can help with shaping, toning and mobility.
  • The enjoy! wellness centres. These have power assisted exercise equipment that is suitable for people with and without disabilities and although their emphasis is on weight loss, their exercise programme can also be used to help maintain levels of ability. They have centres in Chester, Buscough, Chorley and Clitheroe.

There are likely to be more options for power assisted exercise and supported exercise. Mainstream and conventional gyms are likely to be physically accessible and many now have specific services aimed at ensuring they are as inclusive as possible for people with additional needs. A good example of this is Lincs Inpsire who run leisure centres and gyms across Lincolnshire and offer a range of disability activities and services to help people exercise.

Most areas across the UK will operate some kind of ‘exercise referral scheme’ in partnership with health and leisure services. You will likely need a referral from your GP or other health professional. As part of this referral scheme for people with long term conditions, you will get the support of an exercise professional with experience and training in supporting people with additional health needs and the ongoing support of an accessible exercise environment. A good example of the GP referral schemes is ‘everyone active’ who supports people with long-term conditions who want to positively influence their health and wellbeing through their GP exercise referral scheme in their various centres nationwide.

We wish you all the best in finding the right exercise option for you. If you know of options that haven’t made our list why not drop us a line and share our experiences?

Don’t forget that MS-UK has a Choices booklet about exercise that we hope you will find useful. 

If you would like to find out more about exercise options with MS, call our Helpline on 0800 783 0518, chat to the team on our website or email info@ms-uk.org