People with multiple sclerosis (MS) value exercise and physical activity far beyond the concept of “staying fit,” and consider exercise essential to maintaining a reasonable level of independence and being able to engage in social activities, a small U.K. study based on interviews reports.
The study, “The meaning of exercise and physical activity in community dwelling people with multiple sclerosis,” was published in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation.
Research demonstrates that many MS patients lead sedentary lives, engaging in “low levels of physical activities” despite evidence that such activities can be of benefit, the study notes.
Physical exercise has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated by patients, with the potential t0 ease some disease symptoms and prevent complications, and possibly being neuroprotective.
Nonetheless, “the understanding and meaning of physical activity and exercise in everyday life remains underexplored. This is important as such an understanding may enhance attempts to create opportunities to increase physical activity,” the research team at Brunel University London wrote.
The scientists conducted face-to-face, in-depth, and semi-structured interviews with 16 MS patients (12 women and 4 men, ages 47 to 72), all living in their home (community-dwelling), to find their opinions toward exercise and physical activity and how it impacts their daily life. Interviews were done at places chosen by the participant, typically the home.
Findings showed that “everyday life with a deteriorating condition such as MS results in a multidimensional view of exercise and physical activity,” Andrea Stennett, PhD, the study’s first author, said in a news release.
“Exercise and physical activity is a way of coping with the condition and a key to maintaining their identity beyond their diagnosis – for example, as a mother, grandmother, or breadwinner,” Stennett added.
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