The Effect of Physical Activity on Perceived Fatigue in Relapsing-Remitting MS

Tying shoes to exercise.
Researchers assessed the relationship between lifestyle physical activity and perceived physical and cognitive fatigue in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
The following article is part of conference coverage from the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC), held October 25-28 2021, in Orlando, Florida. Neurology Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. Check back for the latest news from the 2021 CMSC Annual Meeting.

Moderate-intensity physical activity may reduce perceived physical and cognitive fatigue among patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), according to research presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC), held October 25-28, 2021, in Orlando, Florida.

Among patients with MS, fatigue is one of the most common and disabling symptoms reported. Previous research suggest physical activity can help reduce symptoms associated with MS, but it’s also noted this patient population tends to be less physically active compared with the healthy general population.

The current objective of the study was to assess the effect of lifestyle physical activity on perceived physical and cognitive decline in patients with RRMS.

The study was a cross-sectional analysis of patient data collected during a preintervention phase of a dietary intervention study. Researchers measured lifestyle physical activity using an accelerometer worn on the wrist by patients for 7 days. To assess perceived fatigue, patients completed the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), the modified Fatigue Impact Scale (physical, cognitive, and psychosocial subscales), and the Fatigue Scale for Motor and Cognitive Functions (FSMCF) (cognitive and motor subscales).

General linear models were used to evaluate the associations between physical activity and fatigue measures. The models included an activity variable ranging from light to vigorous intensity and also considered several control variables including age, sex, years since MS diagnosis, healthy eating index score, the 6 minute walk test distance, body mass index, and vitamin D.

The study cohort included 83 patients with RRMS (mean age, 45.4 years; 85.5% female) who had MS for a mean of 10.7 years. Participants were performing an average of 1295 minutes of light-intensity activities per week, 368 minutes of moderate-intensity activities per week, and 12 minutes of vigorous-intensity activities per week. In an analysis controlled for demographic and clinical variables, researchers observed an association between higher duration of moderate-intensity activity with lower FSMCF-cognitive (P =.0137) and FSMCF-motor (P =.0241) scores as well as lower FSS scores (P =.0011).

The researchers concluded that their findings “emphasize the importance of moderate-intensity physical activity to reduce perceived physical and cognitive fatigue in individuals with RRMS and provide support for using moderate-intensity interventions to reduce MS-related fatigue.”

Disclosures: One study author reports affiliations with industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of the disclosures. 

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Bisht B, Titcomb TJ, Darling WG, et al. Association of lifestyle physical activity with physical and cognitive fatigue in individuals with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Presented at: CMSC 2021 Annual Meeting; October 25-28, 2021; Orlando, Florida. Abstract PSY18.