Small changes in daily activities, like sitting less and walking more, may be healthful for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) without the challenges of formal exercise.
A new study, “Management of multiple sclerosis symptoms through reductions in sedentary behaviour: protocol for a feasibility study,” published in BMJ Open, describes an intervention that could help encourage such activity.
Increasing physical activity can have a lot of benefits for people with MS, but being more active can be difficult, especially as ‘being more active’ is often framed as ‘working out.’ But a physically active life can also be achieved by small changes in day-to-day activities, like simply being less sedentary.
“Sometimes there’s a belief that if exercise isn’t done as a formal workout, it doesn’t count, but sitting less and moving more, taking more steps or standing more is much more feasible as an easier place to start,” Patricia Manns, PhD, a professor at the University of Alberta who co-authored the study, said in a news story.
This study outlines a 15-week intervention called “Sit Less with MS,” proposed as a way to encourage MS patients to get more activity each day.
People taking part receive a newsletter with pertinent information. They also have weekly coaching sessions with a physical therapist via phone or video call, with each session lasting no longer than half an hour.
The intervention is broadly divided into two sections, the first being ‘sit less’ and the second being ‘move more.’ As their names imply, the first is meant to encourage patients to break up lengthy sitting periods, while the second tells them to move more each day, while also sitting less.
Manns said that this focus on small changes to make in daily life — rather than trying to implement a larger and more complex exercise routine — could be more feasibly implemented by people with MS. “The messaging works because it’s an easier psychological entry into these activity guidelines,” she said. “It invites them to be active at their own pace.”
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