Exercise can have a positive influence on certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis: Patients who do yoga and aquatic exercise suffer less from fatigue, depression and paresthesia, as reported by researchers from the University of Basel and the Psychiatric University Clinics Basel in a joint study with colleagues in Iran.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic progressive auto-immune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the nervous tissue, potentially resulting in movement disorders. Other typical symptoms of MS include physical and mental fatigue as well as faintness, depression and paresthesia such as pins and needles, itchiness and numbness.
Increased risk of depression
In a random trial, researchers from Basel and Kermanshah (Iran) have now shown that these symptoms significantly improved after an eight-week program of yoga and aquatic exercise. In comparison to the control group, fatigue, depression and paresthesia were significantly reduced in patients who took part in a three-times weekly training program. In the non-exercising group, the likelihood of moderate to severe depression was 35-fold higher than in the groups who had done yoga or aquatic exercise.
Fifty-four women with MS and an average age of 34 were assigned to one of three groups: yoga, aquatic exercise or no exercise. Before and after the trial, patients were asked to complete a questionnaire about their symptoms. All patients continued with their existing treatment, including any medication taken to regulate the immune system.
Exercise as a complementary therapy
“Exercise training programs should be considered in the future as possible complements to standard MS treatments,” write the researchers. Researchers from the Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences in Iran, the Psychiatric University Clinics (UPK Basel, Center for Affective, Stress and Sleep Disorders) and the University of Basel’s Department of Sport, Exercise and Health took part in the study.
About this neuroscience research
Funding: This study was conducted in collaboration with the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance and the Danish Headache Center. The study received support from the Lundbeck Foundation, Novo Nordisk Foundation & Fabrikant Vilhelm Pedersen & Hustrus legat, Fonden til Lægevidenskabens Fremme A.P.Møller og Hustru Chastina Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til Almene Formaal, and Odense University Hospital.
Source: Dr. Serge Brand – University of Basel Image Source: The image is in the public domain. Original Research:Abstract for “Exercising Impacts on Fatigue, Depression, and Paresthesia in Female Patients with Multiple Sclerosis” by Nazanin Razazian, Zeinab Yavari, Vahid Farnia, Akram Azizi, Laleh Kordavani, Dena Sadeghi Bahmani, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler, and Serge Brand in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Published online April 2016 doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000834
Exercising Impacts on Fatigue, Depression, and Paresthesia in Female Patients with Multiple Sclerosis
Purpose: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic progressive autoimmune disease impacting both body and mind. Typically, patients with MS report fatigue, depression, and paresthesia. Standard treatment consists of immune modulatory medication, though there is growing evidence that exercising programs have a positive influence on fatigue and psychological symptoms such as depression. We tested the hypothesis that, in addition to the standard immune regulatory medication, either yoga or aquatic exercise can ameliorate both fatigue and depression, and we examined whether these interventions also influence paresthesia compared with a nonexercise control condition.
Methods: Fifty-four women with MS (mean age: M = 33.94 yr, SD = 6.92) were randomly assigned to one of the following conditions: yoga, aquatic exercise, or nonexercise control. Their existing immune modulatory therapy remained unchanged. Participants completed questionnaires covering symptoms of fatigue, depression, and paresthesia, both at baseline and on completion of the study 8 wk later.
Results: Compared with the nonexercise control condition and over time, fatigue, depression, and paresthesia decreased significantly in the yoga and aquatic exercise groups. On study completion, the likelihood of reporting moderate to severe depression was 35-fold higher in the nonexercise control condition than in the intervention conditions (yoga and aquatic exercising values collapsed).
Conclusion: The pattern of results suggests that for females with MS and treated with standard immune regulatory medication, exercise training programs such as yoga and aquatic exercising positively impact on core symptoms of MS, namely, fatigue, depression, and paresthesia. Exercise training programs should be considered in the future as possible complements to standard treatments.
“Exercising Impacts on Fatigue, Depression, and Paresthesia in Female Patients with Multiple Sclerosis” by Nazanin Razazian, Zeinab Yavari, Vahid Farnia, Akram Azizi, Laleh Kordavani, Dena Sadeghi Bahmani, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler, and Serge Brand in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Published online April 2016 doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000834