Objective Physical inactivity has increasingly been reported as a risk factor associated with an array of morbidities. Despite this evidence, nearly 70% of adults in the United States remain sedentary by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM) standards for physical activity. This study sought to determine the proportion of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) who meet the CDC/ACSM guidelines for physical activity and examine variables that may be related to meeting these guidelines.
Methods Subjects were 236 persons with MS living in the Seattle area. A research assistant asked subjects over the telephone for the frequency, duration, and type of exercise performed in the last month and basic demographic and medical history data. Respondents were classified as adherent to the CDC/ACSM guidelines if they engaged in moderate-intensity physical activity at least 5 days per week for 30 minutes or vigorous activity at least 3 days per week for 20 minutes.
Results Eighty-seven percent of the sample did not meet the CDC/ACSM guidelines for regular exercise and 29% had not exercised at all in the preceding month. Chi-square analysis did not reveal any significant relationships between meeting the exercise guidelines and sex, type of MS, being ambulatory, extreme heat sensitivity, or balance problems. Body mass index values were significantly lower for those who met the exercise guidelines (mean 26.7 [SD 5.9]) than for those who did not (24.3 [SD 2.9]) (Student's t-test, p = .038).
Conclusions These findings highlight the clinical importance of encouraging increased participation in physical activity for people with MS and developing exercise interventions that are feasible for people in this population.
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