Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Physical Activity and Associated Technology Use in Persons With Multiple Sclerosis: An International RIMS-SIG Mobility Survey Study
Moumdjian, Lousin; orcid: 0000-0003-4973-5190
Arntzen, Ellen Christin
van der Linden, Marietta L.
Yazgan, Yonca Zenginler
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Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, volume 103, issue 10, page 2009-2015
Objective To investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity in persons with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). Design Multicenter international online survey study. Setting The survey was conducted within 11 participating countries. Each country launched the survey using online platforms from May to July 2021. Participants This was an electronic survey study targeting PwMS (N=3725). Intervention Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures The survey ascertained physical activity performance and its intensity, the nature of the activities conducted, and the use of technology to support home-based physical activity before and during the pandemic. Results A total of 3725 respondents completed the survey. Prepandemic, the majority (83%) of respondents reported being physically active, and this decreased to 75% during the pandemic. This change was significant for moderate- and high-intensity activity (P<.0001). Activities carried out in physiotherapy centers, gyms, or pools decreased the most. Walking was the most frequently performed activity prepandemic (27%) and increased during the pandemic (33%). A total of 24% of those inactive during the pandemic had no intention of changing their physical activity behavior post pandemic. A total of 58% of the respondents did not use technology to support physical activity during the pandemic. Of those who did use technology, wearables were most used (24%). Of those currently nonactive (25%) expressed a preference for an in-person format to conduct physical activity post pandemic. Conclusions Physical activity performance, especially activities at moderate and high intensities, decreased during the pandemic in PwMS compared with prepandemic. Walking and using wearables gained popularity as ways to stay active. As we move toward an endemic COVID-19, a call for action to develop interventions focused on walking programs with specific emphasis on increasing physical activity of PwMS is proposed.