The objective of this study was to investigate levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in a large sample of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) and controls using accelerometry as a measure of physical activity, and to compare the rates of meeting public health guidelines for MVPA (ie, 30min/d) between people with MS and controls. The authors conducted a secondary analysis of a combined data set of people with MS and healthy controls from 13 previous investigations of physical activity over a 8-year period (2005–2013). Participants with MS (n=800) were recruited mainly within Illinois via multiple sources, including print and e-mail flyers and an online advertisement on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Healthy controls (n=137) were recruited via public e-mail postings delivered across the university community. Levels of MVPA and meeting public health guidelines for MVPA between individuals with MS and controls served as the main outcome measures. After controlling for covariates (ie, age, sex, education, race, income), there was a moderate (d=.68) and statistically significant (F=47.2, P<.001) difference of 13.1 minutes of MVPA per day (95% confidence interval, 9.4–16.8) between MS and controls. The study also found a difference in the rates of meeting public health guidelines for MVPA (χ2=50.7, P<.001) between MS patients (20%) and controls (47%). Among those with MS, minutes of MVPA significantly differed as a function of education, employment status, clinical course, disease duration, and disability status.
The study provides data using an objective physical activity measure and a large sample to suggest that only a small proportion of people with MS are achieving a sufficient amount of daily MVPA.