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Research shows physical activity can have positive results for people living with multiple sclerosis.

A cross-sectional study including 41 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) examined respiratory muscle strength, pulmonary function, and pelvic floor function. The study found MS patients with more advanced deterioration of pulmonary function and respiratory muscle strength also showed greater deterioration in urinary continence and physical function. Expiratory muscle weakness, in particular, had a negative impact on urinary, physical, and pulmonary function1. Results of this study showed:

  • Pulmonary function is associated with urinary incontinence and gait functionality in patients with MS.
  • Impaired urinary and physical function in patients with MS is associated with expiratory muscle weakness.
  • Respiratory muscle training could improve pelvic floor disorders and physical function in patients with MS when it’s added to the rehabilitation programs.

Another study with 91 patients with MS looked at physical and neuromuscular function. This study found that “higher levels of physical activity are associated with greater neuromuscular and physical function in ambulatory patients with multiple sclerosis independent of disease severity”2. Results of this study showed:

  • Independent of disease severity, physical activity is associated with neuromuscular and physical function,
  • Although longitudinal studies are needed, physical activity may be important in improving or maintaining physical and neuromuscular function in MS patients regardless of their ambulatory stage.
  • Healthcare professionals should encourage ambulatory patients at all stages of their disease to be as physically active as possible.
  • Both studies support physical activity for people living with MS. Physical activity is shown to benefit multiple body systems and improve management of this progressive disease.
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References

Aguilar-Zafra, S., del Corral, T., Montero-González, N., de-Gabriel-Hierro, A., & López-de-Uralde-Villanueva, I. (2022). Urinary incontinence and impaired physical function are associated with expiratory muscle weakness in patients with multiple sclerosis. Disability and Rehabilitation, 44(14), 3531-3539. doi:10.1080/09638288.2020.1867908

Rooney, S., Riemenschneider, M., Dalgas, U., Jørgensen, M.-L. K., Michelsen, A.-S., Brønd, J. C., & Hvid, L. G. (2021). Physical activity is associated with neuromuscular and physical function in patients with multiple sclerosis independent of disease severity. Disability and Rehabilitation, 43(5), 632-639. doi:10.1080/09638288.2019.1634768