The interpretation of physical activity, exercise, & sedentary behaviours by persons with multiple sclerosis.

This study adopted a qualitative research design with directed content analysis and examined the interpretations of physical activity, exercise, and sedentary behaviour by persons with multiple sclerosis.

Fifty three persons with multiple sclerosis who were enrolled in an exercise trial took part in semi-structured interviews regarding personal interpretations of physical activity, exercise, and sedentary behaviours.

Forty three percent of participants indicated a consistent understanding of physical activity, 42% of participants indicated a consistent understanding of exercise, and 83% of participants indicated a consistent understanding of sedentary behaviour with the standard definitions. There was evidence of definitional ambiguity (i.e., 57, 58, and 11% of the sample for physical activity, exercise, and sedentary behaviour, respectively); 6% of the sample inconsistently defined sedentary behaviour with standard definitions. Some participants described physical activity in a manner that more closely aligned with exercise and confused sedentary behaviour with exercise or sleeping/napping. Results highlight the need to provide and utilise consistent definitions for accurate understanding, proper evaluation and communication of physical activity, exercise, and sedentary behaviours among persons with multiple sclerosis.

The application of consistent definitions may minimise ambiguity, alleviate the equivocality of findings in the literature, and translate into improved communication about these behaviours in multiple sclerosis. Implications for Rehabilitation The symptoms of multiple sclerosis can be managed through participation in physical activity and exercise. Persons with multiple sclerosis are not engaging in sufficient levels of physical activity and exercise for health benefits. Rehabilitation professionals should use established definitions of physical activity, exercise, and sedentary behaviours when communicating about these behaviours among persons with multiple sclerosis.

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