Does Multiple Sclerosis Differently Impact Physical Activity in Women and Man? A Quantitative Study Based on Wearable Accelerometers
by Massimiliano Pau 1,*OrcID,Micaela Porta 1,Giancarlo Coghe 2,Jessica Frau 2,Lorena Lorefice 2 and Eleonora Cocco 2
1 Department of Mechanical, Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Cagliari, 09123 Cagliari, Italy
2 Department of Medical Sciences and Public Health, University of Cagliari, 09123 Cagliari, Italy

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(23), 8848;
Received: 19 October 2020 / Revised: 24 November 2020 / Accepted: 26 November 2020 / Published: 28 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Activity, Wellness and Health: Challenges, Benefits and Strategies)
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In people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS), fatigue, weakness and spasticity may reduce mobility and promote sedentary behavior. However, little is known about the existence of possible differences in the way MS modifies the propensity to perform physical activity (PA) in men and women. The present study aimed to partly close this gap by means of quantitative analysis carried out using wearable sensors.

Forty-five pwMS (23 F, 22 M, mean age 50.3) and 41 unaffected age- and sex-matched individuals wore a tri-axial accelerometer 24 h/day for 7 consecutive days. Raw data were processed to calculate average number of daily steps, vector magnitude (VM) counts, and percentage of time spent in sedentary behavior and in PA of different intensities (i.e., light and moderate-to-vigorous, MVPA).

Women with MS spent more time in sedentary behavior and exhibited a reduced amount of light intensity activity with respect to men, while MVPA was similar across sexes. However, in comparison with unaffected individuals, the overall PA patterns appear significantly modified mostly in women who, in presence of the disease, present increased sedentary behavior, reduced MVPA, number of daily steps and VM counts.

The findings of the present study highlight the urgency of including sex as variable in all studies on PA in pwMS.