The Relationship between Physical Activity, Fatigue, Mood, and Perceived Cognitive Impairment in Adults with Multiple Sclerosis

Thursday, May 31, 2018
Exhibit Hall A (Nashville Music City Center)
Chantel D Mayo, M.Sc. , Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
Kelly Miksche, B.Sc. , Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
Kristen Attwell-Pope, M.D. , Neurology, Island Health, Victoria, BC, Canada
Jodie R Gawryluk, Ph.D. R.Psych. , Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system that leads to demyelination of axons (MS Society of Canada, 2017). In addition to motor and sensory symptoms, individuals with MS also experience fatigue, depressed mood, and cognitive problems. Because MS is typically diagnosed in young adulthood and there is no cure, most individuals require costly treatment for the majority of their lives. Many continue to have debilitating symptoms of MS, as well as side effects from pharmacological treatment. As a result, there is a crucial need for behavioural treatments that are effective in reducing MS symptoms. To date, physical activity has shown promise in managing many neurological disorders (e.g., Jang et al., 2017; Svensson et al., 2015) and it has been hypothesized that physical activity may slow the neurodegenerative progression of MS (Sa, 2014).


The aim of the current study was to investigate the relationship between physical activity and MS symptoms of fatigue, depression, and perceived cognitive impairment.


Physical activity, fatigue, mood, and perceived cognitive impairment were assessed using the following measures: Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (GLTEQ; Godin & Sheppard, 1985), Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS; Fisk et al., 1994; Ritvo et al., 1997), Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9; Kroenke et al., 2011), and Patient Deficit Questionnaire (PDQ; Ritvo et al., 1997). Descriptive and correlational statistical analyses were performed with R studio. Partial correlation coefficients were calculated to investigate the relationship between scores on the GLTEQ and scores on the MFIS, PHQ-9, and PDQ, controlling for age.


68 females and 18 males with MS were included in the analysis (mean age = 56.45 ± 12.25 years; mean education = 15.27 ± 3.17 years). Of the participants who reported their MS subtype, 58 reported being diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, while 24 reported being diagnosed with progressive MS. There was a significant negative relationship between physical activity (GLTEQ) and both fatigue (MFI; r = -.34, p = .002) and depression scores (PHQ-9; r= -.23, p = .034). There was no significant relationship between physical activity and perceived cognitive dysfunction (PDQ) (r= -.19, p= .08).


Individuals with MS who reported more strenuous and/or frequent physical activity, reported fewer problems with fatigue and depression. Thus, physical activity holds promise as an additional behavioural treatment strategy to better manage MS symptoms.