Background: While there is an increasing body of evidence supporting the efficacy of exercise in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), additional information on the effectiveness of combining aerobic and resistance training, and yoga is required.
Objectives: This study evaluated the effectiveness of community exercise interventions for people with MS having minimal gait impairment.
Methods: A multi-centred, block-randomised, assessor-blinded, controlled trial was conducted. Participants were randomised in groups of eight to physiotherapist (PT)-led exercise (n = 80), yoga (n = 77), fitness instructor (FI)-led exercise (n = 86) and they took part in weekly community-based group exercise sessions. Those in the control group were asked not to change of their exercise habits (n = 71). The primary outcome was the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale (MSIS) 29v2 physical component, measured before and after the 10-week intervention. Secondary outcomes were the MSIS 29v2 psychological component, the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS) and the 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT).
Results: The group x time interaction approached significance for the MSIS-29v2 physical component (f = 2.48, p = 0.061) and MFIS total (f = 2.50, p = 0.06), and it was significant for the MFIS physical subscale (f = 4.23, p = 0.006). All three exercise interventions led to a statistically significant improvement on the MSIS-29 psychological component and both the MFIS total and physical subscales, which were greater than the control (p < 0.05). Only the PT-led and FI-led interventions significantly improved the MSIS-29 physical and 6MWT to levels greater than the control (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: This study provides evidence for the positive effect of exercise on the physical impact of MS and fatigue. The group nature of the classes may have contributed to the positive effects seen on the psychological impact of MS.
Keywords: Exercise; fatigue; fitness instruction; multiple sclerosis; physiotherapy; quality of life; socialisation; yoga.