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STUDY: Effects of aerobic exercise on quality of life, depression and cognition in MS

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  • STUDY: Effects of aerobic exercise on quality of life, depression and cognition in MS

    Physiology 2016 (Dublin, Ireland) (2016) Proc Physiol Soc 37, PCB133

    Effects of aerobic exercise on quality of life, depression and cognition in subjects with Multiple Sclerosis

    A. Barry, et al

    Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive neurological disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) characterised by episodes of inflammatory demyelination and axonal deterioration. Neurological damage can result in a spectrum of symptoms including spasticity, depression and cognitive abnormalities.

    Physical activity is proposed to target multiple clinical manifestations in MS, and may improve overall quality of life in MS patients. In this study, we investigate whether a cycle ergometry training programme has therapeutic potential in individuals with MS by improving quality of life and depressive symptomatology, while ameliorating cognitive disturbances.

    Healthy volunteers (n=10) and MS patients (n=10) were recruited and informed consent was obtained from each participant. Participants cycled for 30 minutes at 65-75% VO2max on a recumbent ergometer, and this session was repeated twice a week for 8 weeks. Assessments were performed pre- and post-training, including the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology and the MS Quality of Life questionnaire. Cognitive performance were assessed using CANTAB and the Symbol Digit Modality Test (SDMT). Data were analysed using Student's t-test and two-way ANOVA.

    We determined that quality of life was reduced in MS patients, compared to healthy subjects, with a reduction in physical (90.62.2% con vs. 47.84.0 MS; p<0.001) and mental (90.30.5% con vs. 55.10.6 MS; p<0.01) health, observed. Exercise improved both physical (47.84.0% pre-exercise vs. 69.93.2% post-exercise) and mental (55.97.6 pre-exercise vs. 76.34.8 post-exercise) health in MS patients. In support of this, exercise was shown to reduce depressive symptomatology in MS patients (1.40.5 pre-exercise vs 0.30.2 post-exercise; p<0.01).

    We determined lower SDMT scores in MS patients pre-exercise (45.33.4) versus healthy individuals (58.83.0; p<0.05), and importantly, exercise was associated with an improvement in SDMT score (48.64.5) in MS patients, indicating that exercise was associated with an improvement in information processing speed. Exercise was also associated with an improvement in visual sustained attention (rapid visual information processing; RVP).

    Pre-exercise, healthy subjects had higher RVP hits (40.61.8 con vs. 33.04.1 MS), and demonstrated a faster mean latency (390.431.3ms con vs. 432.1 29.8ms MS) than MS patients. Exercise improved RVP hits (37.04.1 post-exercise) and RVP latency (393.525.9ms post-exercise) in MS subjects.

    Our findings indicate that ergometry training is associated with improvements in quality of life and depression indices in MS patients. Further analysis will correlate cognitive improvements with inflammatory signatures in peripheral blood.

    Dave Bexfield