Physical Activity Decreases Vascular Comorbidities in Multiple Sclerosis

girl running outside
girl running outside
Investigators examine the role of physical activity and exercise in the modification of vascular comorbidities and risk factors in individuals with multiple sclerosis.

Increased levels of physical activity may lead to decreased vascular risk profiles in patients with multiple sclerosis, according to a literature review published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Researchers in this review searched for published articles in 5 major databases for studies involving physical activity, sedentary lifestyles, or exercise training and the impact these factors have on vascular comorbidities in patients with multiple sclerosis.

The researchers found 34 articles, including 17 observational studies and 17 interventional studies. They categorized the studies based on vascular comorbidities involved. Some studies incorporated more than 1 comorbidity, leading to a final grouping of 29 studies dealing with obesity, 5 with hyperlipidemia, 5 with hypertension, and 5 with diabetes.

When reviewing the studies involving obesity, researchers found most cross-sectional studies reported benefits to body mass index scores when physical activity was increased, while interventional studies did not find that increased physical activity led to benefits in body mass index scores but did show improvements in body composition. The results were scarce and inconsistent in regards to the effects of physical activity on hyperlipidemia. There was some evidence indicating that physical activity is associated with better arterial function, but again, research is limited and inconclusive. In regards to diabetes, studies did indicate improvement with high-intensity training and a significant relationship between physical activity and blood glucose profiles.

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Future studies need to include larger sample sizes with more diversity in disability levels, better methods for analyzing vascular comorbidities, and tools to monitor physical activity.

In conclusion, the researchers suggested that a high-intensity training program that lasts at least 12 weeks could improve body composition and reduce diabetic risk factors in patients with multiple sclerosis.


Ewanchuk BW, Gharagozloo M, Peelen E, Pilutti LA. Exploring the role of physical activity and exercise for managing vascular comorbidities in people with multiple sclerosis: a scoping review. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2018; 26:19-32.