Research: change in physical activity

The impact of disability on your ability to exercise. #MSBlog #MSResearch

Epub: Motl et al. Longitudinal Change in Physical Activity and Its Correlates in Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Phys Ther. 2013 Apr.

BACKGROUND: Physical activity is beneficial for MSers, but this population is largely inactive. There is minimal information on change in physical activity and its correlates for informing the development of behavioral interventions.

OBJECTIVE: This study examined change in physical activity and its symptomatic, social-cognitive, and ambulatory/disability correlates over a 2.5 year period of time in RRMSers.

METHODS: On 6 occasions each separated by six months, RRMSers (N = 269) completed assessments of symptoms, self-efficacy, walking impairment, disability, and physical activity. The participants further wore an accelerometer for 7 days.

RESULTS: There were significant linear changes in self-reported (p<.05) and objectively (p<.001) measured physical activity, self-efficacy (p<.05), walking impairment (p<.05), and disability (p<.001) over the 2.5 year period; there were no changes in fatigue (p=.70), depression (p=.80), and pain (p=.06). The changes in self-reported and objective physical activity were associated with change in self-efficacy (β=.49 & β=.61, respectively), after controlling for other variables and confounders.

CONCLUSION: Researchers and clinicians should consider designing interventions that target self-efficacy for the promotion and maintenance of physical activity in this population.

Stuart Rose: Running with Multiple Sclerosis

“It is not surprising that physical activity in MSers falls off with time. As MSers become more disabled it is increasingly hard for them to exercise. We need to develop better methods, tools and programmes to allow you to exercise. There is no doubt that exercise is a physical treatment and improves mental and physical well-being. As I write this I feel the need to go for a run. It is very depressing that I have a running injury and can’t run very far or very quickly. I should be grateful that my injury should heal by itself in time. I wonder how MSers’ feel when they realise that their disability is irreversible? I now understand why you are so desperate for effective neurorestorative therapies. Let’s spread the hope; although neurorestoration is the holy grail of MS Research we need to continue working on it. Without research innovation dries up and hope fades.” 

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


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  • Correct. Off to haul myself into rather hopeless version of yoga. Particularly tricky to work out how to manage decent cardio as bits of me give up quite quickly. Good exercise programmes welcome x

  • Mine are swimming, floor work and static bike. My observation is that often there are not so obvious hurdles for MSers to overcome. My main difficulty with swimming is that the floor covering of the changing rooms has a slightly shiny surface and I'm afraid my stick will slip on it. The (short) walk out to my car when my legs are tired is another (mental) barrier (it's the thought of it that is worse than it proves to be). So all these small points add up to a reluctance to make the effort. Good that you're doing this work, anything that makes it easier to exercise is to be welcomed. Actually that goes for the population as a whole!

  • Keeping as fit as possible is important for the disabled and able bodied. Always do what you can. That said, neural repair is the holy grail for MS and other neurodegenerative disease as well as SCI. Some researchers simply throw the "cure" word around every time there is something new to report. They should be more aware of the false hope it generates.

By Prof G



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