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Anders Romberg, Juhani Ruutiainen and Martin Daumer

Given the long-term progressive nature of multiple sclerosis (MS), it is associated with reduced physical activity. The use of different measurement methods may, however, yield differing results on actual physical activity levels in persons with the disease. The purpose of this study was to examine free-living physical activity in persons with mild and moderate MS and to compare it with that of sedentary healthy control persons.

Materials and methods:
The study applied a cross-sectional design. Ambulatory (Expanded Disability Status Scale scores between 0 and 5.5) persons with MS (n=22) and sex- and age-matched, mostly sedentary, healthy control subjects (n=20) took part in the study. Physical activity was measured with an accelerometer and a pedometer during the waking hours of a 7-day period. After the period the participants completed a 7-day recall physical activity questionnaire.

Physical activity was reduced in persons with MS as compared to the healthy only as assessed by a pedometer (P=0.01), but not by an accelerometer (P=0.90) or a questionnaire (P=0.63).

Levels of habitual physical activity in MS vary depending on the measure used. Compared to mostly inactive healthy subjects, ambulatory persons with MS may be equally physically active.