December 15, 2022
Benefits of Exercise for Fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis
Summary: Researchers find that a type of exercise training (high-intensity resistance training (HIRT)) reduces fatigue in people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and provides other benefits. The results of this trial support HIRT as a potential intervention for fatigue in MS.
Background: With over 90% of people with MS experiencing fatigue, it is one of the most frequently reported and debilitating MS symptoms (learn more about Fatigue and MS). There has been a growing body of research showing physical exercise can be beneficial in reducing fatigue. Few studies however have rigorously tested exercise training in people with MS who are actively experiencing fatigue, and little is known about the right dose of exercise training (i.e., frequency, intensity, duration) that maximizes benefits in people with MS.
Details: Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of a type of exercise training, high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), in people with MS experiencing fatigue (learn more about Clinical Trials). The trial recruited 71 participants with MS reporting moderate levels of fatigue. This group received either once or twice weekly HIRT sessions for 12 weeks (called the ‘intervention group’). HIRT involves short, intense, and focused blocks of resistance training, with short breaks in between. Specifically, this trial involved 60-minute supervised HIRT sessions consisting of a warm-up, followed by upper, lower, and whole-body exercises, and a cool down. The trial also included a ‘non-intervention control group’ of 69 participants with MS reporting moderate levels of fatigue who did not receive any exercise intervention. Most participants in the trial had relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and had low levels of physical disability with an Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) of 2.5 or less.
Researchers found that participants with MS who completed either once or twice weekly HIRT sessions (‘intervention group’) had clinically meaningful improvements in self-reported fatigue compared to the ‘non-intervention control group’ that did not receive exercise training. Participants in the ‘intervention group’ also reported other benefits in anxiety, depression, and health-related quality of life (HRQL). In terms of the optimal dose of exercise, twice weekly HIRT was only found to be more beneficial than once weekly HIRT in measures of anxiety and HRQL.
Impact: The findings of this study highlight the potential of HIRT, a type of exercise training, as a non-pharmacological complementary intervention that could help reduce the experience of fatigue in people living with MS. Before starting any new exercise training program, we recommend you speak with your healthcare provider.
Article published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders on August 13, 2022 – High-intensity resistance training in people with multiple sclerosis experiencing fatigue: A randomized controlled trial. Link to article – here.
To learn more about Fatigue and MS – see here.
To learn more about clinical trials and how to participate – see here.