MS Patients Sit Too Much, Study Finds

As long as they are able, people with multiple sclerosis should sit less and move around more. Sedentary behavior worsens the disease, a UK team reports.

As long as they are able, people with multiple sclerosis should sit less and move around more, a UK team reports.

Following up on recent research about the adverse health effects of excessive sitting, a team of movement Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten and colleagues argued in a recent paper that minimizing sedentary behavior has potential benefits for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Lead author van Zanten is a lecturer in biological psychology at the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham in England.The paper was published online ahead of print on April 12 by Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

“This is a clarion call that we must stand together and consider sedentary lifestyle as a new target for managing MS and improving the lives of people with this chronic condition,” the co-authors wrote.

Combining a review of previous research and an agenda for future research, the authors explained how the mobility issues of people with MS can lead to hours of sitting that worsens their disease.

In the general population research has shown that too many hours spent sitting may cause more deaths than smoking or obesity, the paper reported. Even in people who exercise more than seven hours a week and also sat for excessive periods have a risk of death from cardiovascular causes that’s 1.5 times greater.

Cancer and diabetes also have been associated with a high level of sedentary behavior.

People with MS with mild to moderate limitations on their mobility are sedentary from 7 to 10 hours a day which represented between 47% and 85% of the waking hours of the day, according to previous research, the authors said. In addition to the volume of sedentary activity, an important factor is the duration of uninterrupted sitting time, the authors added. Research has shown that people with MS sit for longer periods without a break than controls, they explained. Progressive MS rather than relapsing remitting, older age, and more severe cases were other factors contributing to being more sedentary.

They defined sedentary as any behavior while awake that involves a very low level of energy expenditure while sitting or reclining.

Symptoms such as fatigue or pain and comorbidities such as depression and chronic lung disease may predispose people with MS to being sedentary,” lead author,, and his colleagues wrote.

Yet, little attention has been paid to designing interventions that could reverse this sedentary behavior among MS patients, the authors found. They suggested an agenda for developing interventions that focuses on those with mobility disability and looks at associations with MS symptoms such as immune dysfunctions , sedentary patterns, breaks from sitting or reclining, and times of day this behavior occurs.

“We know very little about sedentary behavior in MS, but we believe that this represents a new target of importance for disease and self-management…[I]t is time to stand up against sedentary behavior in people with MS,” the authors concluded.