Meanings, motivations, and strategies for engaging in physical activity among women with multiple sclerosis

Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(25):2148-57. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2012.677935. Epub 2012 Apr 25.


Purpose: The aim of the current study was to better understand the adoption and maintenance of physical activity from the perspective of women with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods: Participants (N = 11) were women with MS who had low levels of disability and who engaged in varying levels of physical activity. Participants completed two semi-structured, audio taped interviews focusing on their beliefs, motivators, and experiences of physical activity.

Results: Across all activity levels participants reported similar beliefs and motivations related to being physically active including the desire to be "normal", savoring current health, enjoyment of the activity, "feeling good" after activity, weight control, and maintenance of physical function. Active and inactive participants differed in the practical strategies they reportedly used to adopt and maintain physical activity, such as prioritizing and scheduling physical activity, managing disease-specific barriers, and building social support networks.

Conclusions: A consideration of these beliefs, motivations, and strategies may be useful for designing behavioral interventions to increase physical activity that are sensitive to the needs and preferences of women with MS.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Disabled Persons
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Motor Activity
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tape Recording
  • Young Adult