High-intensity resistance training in multiple sclerosis - An exploratory study of effects on immune markers in blood and cerebrospinal fluid, and on mood, fatigue, health-related quality of life, muscle strength, walking and cognition

J Neurol Sci. 2016 Mar 15:362:251-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2016.01.063. Epub 2016 Feb 3.


Background: High-intensity resistance training is unexplored in people with multiple sclerosis.

Objectives: To evaluate effects of high-intensity resistance training on immune markers and on measures of mood, fatigue, health-related quality of life, muscle strength, walking and cognition. Further, to describe participants' opinion and perceived changes of the training.

Methods: Twenty patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis performed high-intensity resistance training at an intensity of 80% of one-repetition maximum, twice a week for 12 weeks. Blood and optional cerebrospinal fluid samples, and data on secondary outcome measures were collected before and after intervention. A study-specific questionnaire was used for capturing participants' opinion.

Results: Seventeen participants completed the study. Plasma cytokine levels of tumor necrosis factor were significantly decreased post-intervention (p=0.001). Exploratory cytokine analyses in cerebrospinal fluid (n=8) did not reveal major changes. Significant and clinically important improvements were found in fatigue (p=0.001) and health-related quality of life (p=0.004). Measures of mood (p=0.002), muscle strength (p ≤ 0.001), walking speed (p=0.013) and cognition (p=0.04) were also improved. A majority of participants evaluated the training as very good and perceived changes to the better.

Conclusion: High-intensity resistance training in persons with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis with low disability had positive effects on peripheral pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, led to clinically relevant improvements in measures of fatigue and health-related quality of life, and was well tolerated. These results provide a basis for a larger randomized trial.

Keywords: Exercise; Fatigue; Immunology; Multiple sclerosis; Quality of life; Resistance training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Cytokines / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / etiology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting* / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting* / psychology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting* / rehabilitation
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Resistance Training*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines