A qualitative exploration of the impact of a 12-week group exercise class for those moderately affected with Multiple Sclerosis

Y C Learmonth, R Marshall-McKenna, L Paul, P Mattison, L Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The evidence base to support therapeutic exercise for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) is improving; however few studies have considered the patients’ perspective. This study aimed to explore the experiences and views of people moderately affected with MS following participation in a 12-week exercise programme. Method: Twenty people with MS participated in a group exercise class. Subsequently, four men and ten women took part in one of two focus groups. Semi-structured questions were used to elicit participants’ views on the exercise class, outcomes from exercise and the exercise class and any perceived facilitators or barriers to exercise. Data were analysed using a general inductive method. Results: Benefits to participating in exercise for those with MS included social support and symptom improvement. Psychosocial factors, symptoms and lack of service emerged as exercise barriers. Three inter-related themes emerged; (1) The exercise class developed as a bridge to allow participants to realise, (2) the benefits of the class, helping them to overcome and (3) barriers to exercise. Conclusion: Taking part in an exercise class was a positive experience for people with MS. Healthcare professionals should work with exercise professionals to provide feasible exercise opportunities to help those with MS benefit from therapeutic exercise.
Implications for Rehabilitation
People moderately affected with multiple sclerosis (MS) feel group exercise offers symptom improvement and social benefits.
MS-related symptoms and a lack of service options may prevent those with MS exercising.
Physiotherapists should work alongside exercise professionals to establish exercise services for those with MS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-88
Number of pages8
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Early online date2 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • multiple sclerosis
  • exercise interventions
  • Qualitative research


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