Objectively quantified physical activity in persons with multiple sclerosis

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Dec;94(12):2342-2348. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2013.07.011. Epub 2013 Jul 29.


Objectives: To investigate levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in a large sample of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) and controls using accelerometry as a measure of physical activity, and to compare the rates of meeting public health guidelines for MVPA (ie, 30min/d) between persons with MS and controls.

Design: Secondary analysis of a combined data set of persons with MS and healthy controls from 13 previous investigations of physical activity over a 8-year period (2005-2013).

Setting: University.

Participants: Participants with MS (n=800) were recruited primarily within Illinois through multiple sources, including print and e-mail flyers and an online advertisement on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Healthy controls (n=137) were recruited via public e-mail postings delivered across the university community.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Levels of MVPA and meeting public health guidelines for MVPA between persons with MS and controls.

Results: After controlling for covariates (ie, age, sex, education, race, income), there was a moderate (d=.68) and statistically significant (F=47.2, P<.001) difference of 13.1 minutes of MVPA per day (95% confidence interval, 9.4-16.8) between MS and controls. There was a difference in the rates of meeting public health guidelines for MVPA (χ(2)=50.7, P<.001) between MS patients (20%) and controls (47%). Among those with MS, minutes of MVPA significantly differed as a function of education, employment status, clinical course, disease duration, and disability status.

Conclusions: We provide data using an objective physical activity measure and a large sample to indicate that only a small proportion of persons with MS are achieving adequate amounts of daily MVPA.

Keywords: ANCOVA; Accelerometry; CI; MS; MVPA; Motor activity; Multiple sclerosis; PDDS; Patient-Determined Disease Steps; QOL; Rehabilitation; analysis of covariance; confidence interval; moderate-to-vigorous physical activity; multiple sclerosis; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / instrumentation*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Orthopedic Equipment