Barriers to increased physical activity in ambulatory MS sample.

TitleBarriers to increased physical activity in ambulatory MS sample.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsLaRotonda CJ, Wadhwani R, Cline MJ, Bowen JD, Bombardier CH, Ehde DM, Kraft GH
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care

Background and Significance: Physical exercise has been shown to improve gait and reduce weakness and fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Perceived barriers that result in decreased exercise may contribute to lower quality of life and decreased participation and function. This study sought to examine the perceived barriers to exercise observed in a sample of people with MS. Methods: Fifty-one people with MS were recruited from a large university-based clinic. Participants received five counseling sessions, in person and over the phone, during a 6- month period, using motivational interviewing to create and maintain an exercise program. During these sessions, a counselor elicited perceived physical and nonphysical barriers to exercise. Findings: Thirty-four percent of the total barriers reported by participants were MS symptom related; of those, participants reported fatigue (10.6%), exacerbation (10.6%), heat sensitivity (6.9%), and cognitive problems (3.5%) most often. Other barriers included scheduling difficulties (12.8%), non- MS-related illness or injury (11.2%), pain (7.1%), weatherrelated difficulties (6.5%), and work/family issues (6.3%). Conclusions: Although some symptoms of MS can be ameliorated by exercise, those symptoms themselves may act as barriers to exercise. Intervention on the symptom level may help patients with MS gain the benefits associated with increased exercise.

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