Multiple sclerosis (MS) has a greater impact on women, reducing their levels of physical activity and increasing sedentary behavior, a recent study has found.
The study, “Does Multiple Sclerosis Differently Impact Physical Activity in Women and Man? A Quantitative Study Based on Wearable Accelerometers” was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
In patients with MS, symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and spasticity (muscle stiffness) may reduce mobility and promote sedentary behavior. However, little is known about the possible differences in the way MS changes the propensities of men and women engaging in physical activity, “since few studies have explicitly considered sex as a main variable of interest.”
To fill this knowledge gap, a team of researchers at the University of Cagliari, in Italy, investigated the existence of possible differences between women and men with MS, when it comes to the amount and intensity of physical activity they practiced weekly.
The study included 45 patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) (23 women and 22 men, with a mean age of 50.3 years) and 41 age- and sex-matched healthy participants, who served as controls (21 women and 20 men, with a mean age 48.2).
Patients with RRMS also were divided into two different groups, based on their expanded disability status scale (EDSS) scores (a measure of MS disability) in mild (16 women and 13 men), and moderate-severe disability (seven women and nine men).
Data regarding the participants’ physical activity was acquired 24 hours a day for a week via a wrist-worn accelerometer (Actigraph GT3X). At the end of the week data was downloaded and processed with ActiLife software and analyzed using statistical models.
Researchers then analyzed different variables, including the average number of daily steps, vector magnitude counts (a measure of physical activity), and the percentage of time participants spent engaging in sedentary behavior and in physical activity of different intensities (light and moderate-to-vigorous physical activities).
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