Progressive resistance training did not improve walking but can improve muscle performance, quality of life and fatigue in adults with multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled trial

Mult Scler. 2011 Nov;17(11):1362-74. doi: 10.1177/1352458511409084. Epub 2011 Jun 15.


Background: Few high-quality trials have examined the effects of progressive resistance training (PRT) on people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Objective: To determine the effectiveness of PRT for people with MS, focusing on improving the gait deficits common in this population.

Methods: Using a single blind randomized controlled trial, people with relapsing-remitting MS were randomly allocated to either a PRT program targeting the lower limb muscles twice a week for 10 weeks (n = 36), or usual care plus an attention and social program conducted once a week for 10 weeks (n = 35). Outcomes were recorded at baseline, week 10 and week 22.

Results: Participants attended 92% of training sessions, with no serious adverse events. At 10 weeks, no differences were detected in walking performance. However, compared with the comparison group PRT demonstrated increased leg press strength (16.8%, SD 4.5), increased reverse leg press strength (29.8%, SD 12.7), and increased muscle endurance of the reverse leg press (38.7%, SD 32.8). Improvements in favor of PRT were also found for physical fatigue (Mean difference -3.9 units, 95%CI -6.6 to -1.3), and the physical health domain of quality of life (Mean difference 1.5 units, 95%CI 0.1 to 2.9). At week 22 almost no between-group differences remained.

Conclusion: PRT is a relatively safe intervention that can have short-term effects on reducing physical fatigue, increasing muscle endurance and can lead to small improvements in muscle strength and quality of life in people with relapsing-remitting MS. However, no improvements in walking performance were observed and benefits do not appear to persist if training is completely stopped.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / diagnosis
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / psychology
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / therapy*
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / physiopathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / psychology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / therapy*
  • Muscle Fatigue*
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Quality of Life*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Resistance Training*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Victoria
  • Walking*