Meanings, motivations, and strategies for engaging in physical activity among women with multiple sclerosis

Deirdre Dlugonski, Rachel Japp Joyce, Robert W. Motl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of the current study was to better understand the adoption and maintenance of physical activity from the perspective of women with multiple sclerosis (MS). Methods: Participants (N = 11) were women with MS who had low levels of disability and who engaged in varying levels of physical activity. Participants completed two semi-structured, audio taped interviews focusing on their beliefs, motivators, and experiences of physical activity. Results: Across all activity levels participants reported similar beliefs and motivations related to being physically active including the desire to be "normal", savoring current health, enjoyment of the activity, "feeling good" after activity, weight control, and maintenance of physical function. Active and inactive participants differed in the practical strategies they reportedly used to adopt and maintain physical activity, such as prioritizing and scheduling physical activity, managing disease-specific barriers, and building social support networks. Conclusions: A consideration of these beliefs, motivations, and strategies may be useful for designing behavioral interventions to increase physical activity that are sensitive to the needs and preferences of women with MS. Implications for Rehabilitation Women with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience a variety of symptoms that can be improved through participation in physical activity. Understanding the complex factors associated with the adoption and maintenance of physical activity can facilitate the design of interventions for increasing physical activity. Researchers and clinicians working to promote physical activity among women with MS might consider teaching skills related to prioritizing physical activity, assisting in the development of social support networks, and encouraging participants to explore their personal meanings for physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2148-2157
Number of pages10
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number25
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Physical activity
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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