Exercise can help beat MS fatigue, MS Society reveals

Published date: 15 Jan 2014 at 9:01AM

Researchers funded by the MS Society have found that short periods of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (like walking or steady cycling) can help to improve fatigue levels and enhance overall quality of life in people with MS.

The study, known as EXIMS (pragmatic Exercise Intervention for people with MS) was conducted at Sheffield Hallam University and involved 120 participants with MS from the south Yorkshire (in England) area.

Researchers placed 60 participants on a 12 week exercise programme that included supervised sessions of short bursts of aerobic exercise as well as self-directed exercise in the home. For comparison, the 60 remaining participants received usual care from the NHS.

Fatigue levels reduced

At the end of the study, participants receiving the exercise programme reported significantly reduced fatigue levels, as well as improvements in emotional wellbeing, social function and overall quality of life. Importantly, these benefits were sustained for nine months, demonstrating that exercising can bring long-term benefits for people with MS.

The researchers also assessed the cost effectiveness of the exercise programme, discovering that it is highly likely to be cost effective when compared to usual NHS care.

The next step

The EXIMS study was led by Professor John Saxton, now based at the University of East Anglia. The study will now be used as the basis for developing an exercise programme that can be delivered to people with MS from all over the UK.

Page last updated: 16 Jan 2014

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