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Disabil Rehabil. 2013 Mar;35(5):353-61. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2012.742574.

Exercise barriers and preferences among women and men with multiple sclerosis.

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School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



The primary objective of this study was to estimate the extent to which women and men with MS present different exercise barriers. The secondary objective was to estimate the extent to which women and men with MS present different perceived-health, depressive symptoms, and current exercise routines or preferences.


This was a cross sectional survey.


417 people with MS completed a survey of exercise barriers and current exercise routines, perceived-health and depressive symptoms. The top three exercise barriers were: too tired; impairment; and lack of time, regardless of their gender. Regardless of their gender, three times/week and 60 min/session was identified as the most common current exercise structure among physically active participants. The top three currently preferred exercise by men included walking, strengthening/weights and flexibility/stretch exercise. Women reported the same three exercises but flexibility/stretch exercise were slightly more popular than other exercise. Similarities in perceived health status and depressive symptoms were seen between women and men; expect more men were diagnosed with progressive MS (20% higher) than women, leading to a higher rate of men reporting problems with mobility.


Women and men with MS differed very little on exercise barriers and current exercise routines, perceived health and depressive symptoms. Even though MS is generally considered a woman's disease, this study did not find a strong need to develop gender specific exercise or physical activity interventions for this population.

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