Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients suffer from various difficulties including sleep complaints, symptoms of depression and fatigue, paresthesia, and cognitive impairments. There is growing evidence that regular physical activity has a positive effect on both sleep and psychological functioning, though there is limited evidence of this kind for MS patients. The aim of the present study was therefore to investigate the impact on this patient group of a regular exercise program with respect to subjective and objective sleep, depression, paresthesia, fatigue, and cognitive performance. Methods: A total of 46 patients [mean age: 50.74 years; Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS): mean: 5.3, 78.4% females] completed this 3-week intervention study. At baseline and 3 weeks later, they answered questionnaires covering sociodemographic information, subjective sleep, depression, fatigue, paresthesia, and subjective physical activity. Objective sleep [sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings] and cognitive performance were also assessed at both time points. Patients participated in a regular exercise activity every weekday for about 60 min. Results: Compared to the baseline, by the end of the study, objective sleep had significantly improved (sleep efficiency, sleep onset latency, and wake time after sleep onset), and symptoms of sleep complaints, depression, fatigue, and paresthesia were significantly reduced. Subjective physical activity (moderate and vigorous) and cognitive performance also increased over the course of the intervention. Conclusions: In patients with MS, participation in regular exercise impacted positively on their objective and subjective sleep, depression, paresthesia, fatigue, and cognitive performance.
Keywords: cognitive performance; exercise; multiple sclerosis; physical activity intervention; rehabilitation; sleep; sleep-EEG.
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