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LB1156 - Physical activity behavior in people with multiple sclerosis during the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel: Results of an online survey (ID 1152)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) itself and first-line disease modifying therapies do not increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. However, home isolation is likely to result in a significant decrease in participation in leisure time physical activities and an increase in sedentary behavior. This avoidance behavior might be harmful for essential functions such as mobility, cognition, and physical fitness, resulting in a reduced quality of life in people with MS (PwMS), exceeding the typical impact of the disease.
Provide data related to the impact of COVID-19 epidemic on physical activity (PA) behavior and fitness level in an Israeli cohort of PwMS.
During the 30-day period of May 15th and June 15th, 2020 an online survey questionnaire related to physical activity was distributed via e-mail and common social websites to ~500 PwMS. Descriptive information including age, gender, disease duration, and use of walking support was collected to characterize the population. Specifically, participants were asked to report on whether, and to what extent, the pandemic conditions had altered their PA behavior. Participants were asked to report the frequency per week they took part in PA sessions, and the duration and the type of activity they were engaged in. In addition, participants were asked to rate their level of physical fitness compared to the period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One hundred thirteen PwMS completed the online survey, 74 were females with a mean age of 43.0 (S.D.=12.9) years. In the majority of responders (42.5%) disease duration was short, between 1-5 years, and 88.5% were not using any walking support. PA behavior during the pandemic demonstrated that 16.8% who were engaged in PA before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped practicing, 33.6% reduced their PA, 20.4% continued as before, and 18.6% increased their PA. Aerobic exercises were the main type of PA performed by 58.4% of patients. As for the patient’s self-reported fitness level, 31.9% reported that their fitness level had decreased during the pandemic, 60.2% felt no change, and 8% reported an improvement.
Our findings serve as a call of action for all professionals involved in MS management to address PA behavior in PwMS during the COVID-19 epidemic.