Schulz KH, Gold SM, Witte J, Bartsch K, Lang UE, Hellweg R, Reer R, Braumann KM, Heesen C.

In recent years it has become clear that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients benefit from physical exercise as performed in aerobic training but little is known about the effect on functional domains and physiological factors mediating these effects. We studied immunological, endocrine and neurotrophic factors as well as coordinative function and quality of life during an 8-week aerobic bicycle training in a waitlist control design. In the immune-endocrine study (1) 28 patients were included, the coordinative extension study (2) included 39 patients. Training was performed at 60% VO(2)max after determining individual exertion levels through step-by-step ergometry. Metabolic (lactate), endocrine (cortisol, adrendocortico-releasing hormone, epinephrine, norepinephrine), immune (IL-6, soluble IL-6 receptor), and neurotrophic (brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF)) parameters were compared from a prestudy and a poststudy endurance test at 60% VO(2)max for 30 min. In study (1), lowered lactate levels despite higher workload levels indicated a training effect. Disease-specific quality of life (as measured by the Hamburg Quality of Life Questionnaire for Multiple Sclerosis, HAQUAMS) significantly increased in the training group. No significant training effects were seen for endocrine and immune parameters or neurotrophins. In study (2), two out of three coordinative parameters of the lower extremities were significantly improved. In summary, low-level aerobic training in MS improves not only quality of life but also coordinative function and physical fitness.

J. Neurol. Sci. 2004;225:11-8.

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