Objective: To determine the effect of yoga and of aerobic exercise on cognitive function, fatigue, mood, and quality of life in multiple sclerosis (MS).
Methods: Subjects with clinically definite MS and Expanded Disability Status Score less than or equal to 6.0 were randomly assigned to one of three groups lasting 6 months: weekly Iyengar yoga class along with home practice, weekly exercise class using a stationary bicycle along with home exercise, or a waiting-list control group. Outcome assessments performed at baseline and at the end of the 6-month period included a battery of cognitive measures focused on attention, physiologic measures of alertness, Profile of Mood States, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Multi-Dimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI), and Short Form (SF)-36 health-related quality of life.
Results: Sixty-nine subjects were recruited and randomized. Twelve subjects did not finish the 6-month intervention. There were no adverse events related to the intervention. There were no effects from either of the active interventions on either of the primary outcome measures of attention or alertness. Both active interventions produced improvement in secondary measures of fatigue compared to the control group: Energy and Fatigue (Vitality) on the SF-36 and general fatigue on the MFI. There were no clear changes in mood related to yoga or exercise.
Conclusion: Subjects with MS participating in either a 6-month yoga class or exercise class showed significant improvement in measures of fatigue compared to a waiting-list control group. There was no relative improvement of cognitive function in either of the intervention groups.