More MS news articles for June 2002

Coronary heart disease risk between active and inactive women with multiple sclerosis

Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002 Jun;34(6):905-912
Slawta JN, McCubbin JA, Wilcox AR, Fox SD, Nalle DJ, Anderson G.
Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.


Physical activity is strongly recommended as a principal component of coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factor management aimed at favorably lowering abdominal fat accumulation, lowering levels of triglyceride (TG), raising levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), and improving insulin sensitivity. Although physical activity practices are reported to be low in women with multiple sclerosis (MS), some women with MS remain physically active despite their disability. Thus, the primary aim of the study was to determine whether abdominal fat accumulation and levels of TG, HDL-C, and glucose differ between active and inactive women with MS.


The study sample consisted of 123 women with MS, aged 23-72 yr. Venous blood was collected for measurement of lipids, lipoprotein-cholesterol, and glucose. Skin-fold thicknesses and girth circumferences were obtained for estimation of total and abdominal body fat. Leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) during the last 12 months was assessed by the physical activity questionnaire used in the Postmenopausal Estrogens/Progestins Intervention (PEPI) Study. Eating habits were assessed by the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire.


LTPA was significantly associated with lower waist circumference (P = 0.0001), lower TG levels (P = 0.0005), and lower glucose levels (0.002). After adjusting for several covariates, women participating in low- to moderate-intensity LTPA had significantly lower waist circumferences, TG levels, and glucose levels relative to inactive women.


Low- to moderate-intensity LTPA was significantly associated with less abdominal fat accumulation, lower levels of TG, and lower levels of glucose in the present sample of women with MS. These findings suggest that exercise levels attainable by women with MS may improve CHD risk and contribute to important health-related benefits.