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Disabil Rehabil. 2019 Apr;41(8):904-911. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2017.1416499. Epub 2017 Dec 20.

Sit less and move more: perspectives of adults with multiple sclerosis.

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a Department of Physical Therapy , University of Alberta , Edmonton , Canada.
b Department of Physical Therapy , University of Alabama at Birmingham , Birmingham , AL , USA.



Multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological disease with the highest prevalence in Canada. Replacing sedentary behavior with light activities may be a feasible approach to manage multiple sclerosis symptoms. This study explored the perspectives of adults with multiple sclerosis about sedentary behavior, physical activity and ways to change behavior.


Fifteen adults with multiple sclerosis (age 43 ± 13 years; mean ± standard deviation), recruited through the multiple sclerosis Clinic at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, participated in semi-structured interviews. Interview audios were transcribed verbatim and coded. NVivo software was used to facilitate the inductive process of thematic analysis.


Balancing competing priorities between sitting and moving was the primary theme. Participants were aware of the benefits of physical activity to their overall health, and in the management of fatigue and muscle stiffness. Due to fatigue, they often chose sitting to get their energy back. Further, some barriers included perceived fear of losing balance or embarrassment while walking. Activity monitoring, accountability, educational and individualized programs were suggested strategies to motivate more movement.


Adults with multiple sclerosis were open to the idea of replacing sitting with light activities. Motivational and educational programs are required to help them to change sedentary behavior to moving more. IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION One of the most challenging and common difficulties of multiple sclerosis is walking impairment that worsens because of multiple sclerosis progression, and is a common goal in the rehabilitation of people with multiple sclerosis. The deterioration in walking abilities is related to lower levels of physical activity and more sedentary behavior, such that adults with multiple sclerosis spend 8 to 10.5 h per day sitting. Replacing prolonged sedentary behavior with light physical activities, and incorporating education, encouragement, and self-monitoring strategies are feasible approaches to manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.


Multiple sclerosis; moving; sedentary behavior; sitting

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