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Old 04-17-2019, 05:20 PM
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Default STUDY: Benefits of Physical Activity in MS Go Beyond Aerobic Fitness, Strength

Benefits of Adhering to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults with Multiple Sclerosis Go Beyond Aerobic Fitness and Strength

Karissa L. Canning, PhD; Audrey L. Hicks, PhD

From the Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Correspondence: Audrey L. Hicks, PhD, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University


Background: The Physical Activity Guidelines (PAGs) for Adults with MS were released in 2013, but have yet to be validated. We aimed to test the effectiveness of the PAGs in improving fitness, mobility, fatigue symptoms and quality of life (QOL) in a large cohort of adults with MS.

Methods: As part of an ongoing RCT examining the implementation of the PAGs, participants were randomized to either a direct referral group (REF: physician referral to an exercise program following the PAGs; n = 42) or a control group (CON: provided a copy of the PAGs; n = 37). Physical activity behavior was assessed through weekly physical activity logs. Fitness, mobility, fatigue symptoms and QOL were assessed at baseline and after 16 weeks. Participants were categorized as either PAG “Adherers” (n = 30) or “Non-Adherers” (n = 49) based on achieving the PAG recommendations at least 75% of the time.

Results: Adherence to the PAGs was twice as high in REF compared with CON. Adherers experienced significantly greater improvements in VO2 peak (+29%), strength (+7–18%), mobility (+16%), fatigue symptoms (−36%) and QOL (+17–22%) compared to the Non-Adherers (P < .05).

Conclusions: Following the PAGs for at least 12 out of 16 weeks results in improvements in fitness, mobility, fatigue symptoms and QOL, confirming the effectiveness of the PAGs for people with MS for improving health.


To achieve important fitness benefits, adults aged 18-64 years with multiple
sclerosis who have mild to moderate disability need at least:

• 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity, 2 times per week,
• Strength training exercises for major muscle groups, 2 times per week.

Meeting these guidelines may also reduce fatigue, improve mobility and
enhance elements of health-related quality of life.
Dave Bexfield
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