Accelerometer measured physical activity and sedentary time in individuals with multiple sclerosis versus age matched controls: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Eilidh Macdonald*, Duncan Buchan, Luke Cerexhe, Linda Renfrew, Nicholas Sculthorpe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


People with Multiple Sclerosis (PwMS) find it more difficult to engage in physical activity (PA) than healthy controls. Accelerometers can be used to measure sedentary time and free-living physical activity, understanding the differences between PwMS and controls can help inform changes such as interventions to promote a more active lifestyle. This in turn will help prevent secondary conditions and reduce symptom progression.

To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis on accelerometer measured sedentary behavior and physical activity between PwMS and healthy controls.

A systematic search of five databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Ovid, Science Direct and CINAHIL) from inception until 22nd November 2019. Inclusion criteria was (1) included a group of participants with a definite diagnosis of multiple sclerosis of any type; (2) have 3 or more days of PA monitoring using accelerometers during free living conditions; (3) include age matched healthy controls; (4) assess adults over the age of 18; (5) reported data had to have been reported in a manner suitable for quantitative pooling including: percent of time spent sedentary, minutes per day of sedentary, light, moderate, vigorous activity (moderate and vigorous totaled together), steps per day or counts per day.

Initial search produced 9021 papers, after applying inclusion criteria 21 eligible papers were included in the study. One paper was a longitudinal study from which only baseline data was included. One paper was a reliability and validity study, with data for PwMS versus controls in the validity section. All other papers are cross sectional, with one being a pilot study and another a random control study. One paper used two devices in unison, only one set of data is included in the statistics. Outcome data was available for 1098 participants, 579 PwMS and 519 healthy controls. Significant differences were seen in all categories tested: (1) sedentary time (min/day), standard mean difference -0.286, P = 0.044, n = 4 studies; (2) relative sedentary time (%/day), standard mean difference -0.646, P = 0.000, n = 5 studies; (3) LPA (min/day), standard mean difference 0.337, P = 0.039, n = 5 studies; (4) relative LPA (%/day), standard mean difference 0.211, P = 0.152, n = studies; (5) MVPA (min/day), standard mean difference 0.801, P = 0.000, n = 8 studies; (6) relative MVPA (%/day), mean difference 0.914, P = 0.000, n = 5 studies; (7) step count, standard mean difference 0.894, P = 0.000, n = 8 studies; (8) activity count, standard mean difference 0.693, P = 0.000, n = 13 studies.

PwMS are more sedentary and engage in less LPA, MVPA, steps per day and accelerometer counts per day than healthy controls when measured using accelerometers during free-living conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104462
Number of pages13
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Early online date9 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2023


  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • accelerometer
  • sedentary
  • moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA)
  • control


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