Exercise has been proven to improve function and quality of life for those living with an array of diseases. A recent study finds that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are among those who benefit from physical activity. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, where the nerves of the brain and spinal cord are damaged by one’s own immune system. This results in loss of muscle control, vision, balance, and sensation (such as numbness).
120 people with MS were randomly assigned to one of two groups: usual care plus a 12 week exercise program or usual care only. The individuals in the first group participated in a supervised, home exercise program which was called Exercise Intervention for People with MS (EXIMS) by the research team. At nine-month follow-up, the study shows that the patients in the exercise program group reported improvements in fatigue and emotional well-being, social function, and other health-related quality of life measures. This group also continued with higher levels of physical activity after participating in the study.
Aerobic exercise was the key type with walking being the most common activity. Participants completed short bouts of activity followed by intervals of rest. As the study advanced, the periods of exercise increased while the rest time decreased. To encourage long-term exercise habits, the group was also taught cognitive-behavioral techniques, such as goal setting, finding social support, and understanding the benefit of physical activity.
Source: Saxton J, Carter A, Daley A, et al. Pragmatic exercise intervention for people with multiple sclerosis (ExIMS Trial): Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 2013; 34 (2): 205-211.