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Disabil Rehabil. 2009;31(9):685-92. doi: 10.1080/09638280802273473.

How does exercise influence fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis?

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Centre for Physiotherapy Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.



This study explored the influence of an 8-week exercise programme on fatigue perceptions in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).


Eight women and two men with a confirmed diagnosis of MS participated three times a week in an 8-week exercise programme at a physiotherapy gymnasium. Participants were interviewed at three defined time points. Interviews were transcribed, analysed, and emergent categories were subject to verification by three independent sources.


Five interrelated categories were identified from the data. The category, 'listening to your body' evolved from the participants' 'perceived control over fatigue', which subsequently defined the 'reaching the edge'; a critical point at which the 'nature of tiredness' perceived by participants following exercise was either healthy or unhealthy. This critical point consequently explained either perceived positive 'exercise outcomes' outcomes of physical improvement and wellbeing or perceived physical deterioration and negative feelings.


This study details the positive and negative influences of exercise on fatigue perceptions in people with MS. Healthcare professionals therefore, need to be cognisant of strategies which may enhance 'perceived control over fatigue' and promote 'listening to your body', in order to maximise the benefits of exercise intervention for individuals with MS-related fatigue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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