Short-term effect of aerobic exercise on symptoms in multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome: a pilot study

Yvonne C Learmonth, Lorna Paul, Angus K McFadyen, Rebecca Marshall-McKenna, Paul Mattison, Linda Miller, Niall G McFarlane

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10 Citations (Scopus)


This pilot study was conducted to determine whether a 15-minute bout of moderate-intensity aerobic cycling exercise would affect symptoms (pain and fatigue) and function (Timed 25-Foot Walk test [T25FW] and Timed Up and Go test [TUG]) in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and to compare these results with those of a healthy control group.
Eight people with MS (Expanded Disability Status Scale score 5-6; Karnofsky score 50-80), eight people with CFS (Karnofsky score 50-80), and eight healthy volunteers participated in the study. Pain and fatigue levels and results of the T25FW and TUG were established at baseline as well as at 30 minutes, 2 hours, and 24 hours following a 15-minute stationary cycling aerobic exercise test. Repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) and covariance (ANCOVA) were used to analyze the findings over time.
At baseline there were statistically significant differences between groups in fatigue (P = .039), T25FW (P = .034), and TUG (P = .010). A significant group/time interaction emerged for fatigue levels (P= .005). We found no significant group/time interaction for pain levels or function.
Undertaking 15 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic cycling exercise had no significant adverse effects on pain or function in people with MS and CFS (with a Karnofsky score of 50-80) within a 24-hour time period. These initial results suggest that people with MS or CFS may undertake 15 minutes of cycling as moderate aerobic exercise with no expected negative impact on pain or function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • multiple sclerosis
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • exercise


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