Environmental correlates of physical activity in multiple sclerosis: A cross-sectional study

Shawna E. Doerksen, Robert W. Motl, Edward McAuley

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35 Scopus citations


Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease that is associated with physical inactivity. Understanding the factors that correlate with physical activity is important for developing effective physical activity promotion programs for this population. Thus, we conducted a cross-sectional study that examined the association between features of the built environment with self-reported and objectively measured physical activity behaviour in adults with MS. Methods: Participants with MS (n = 196) were sent a questionnaire packet that included self-report measures of the built environment and physical activity and a pedometer in the mail and were instructed to complete the questionnaires and wear the device for seven days. Participants returned the completed questionnaires in a pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelope. Bivariate correlation analysis was conducted for examining associations between items on the environmental questionnaire with the two measures of physical activity. Stepwise regression analysis was conducted for determining the independent contributions of the significant environmental correlates for explaining variation in physical activity. Results: Correlational analysis indicated that presence of shops, stores, markets or other places within walking distance (r = .20; ρ = .18), presence of a transit stop within walking distance (r = .20; ρ = .16), and accessibility of free or low-cost recreation facilities (r = .16; ρ = .15) were related to pedometer, but not self-reported, measured physical activity. Regression analysis indicated that the presence of a transit stop within walking distance independently explained 4% of variance in pedometer measured physical activity. Conclusion: Physical activity is an important behaviour to promote among individuals with MS. This study indicated that aspects of the built environment are related to this health promoting behaviour among those with MS. Further research should focus on the longitudinal relationships among aspects of the environment with physical activity so as to provide strong background for developing effective promotion programs for people with MS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number49
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
StatePublished - Oct 8 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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