Research Study Abstract

Physical activity is associated with cognitive processing speed in persons with multiple sclerosis

  • Published on January 2014

Abstract: The impairment of cognitive processing speed is common, disabling, and poorly managed in multiple sclerosis (MS). This study examined the association between objectively-measured physical activity and cognitive processing speed (CPS) in a large sample of persons with MS. Patients (N=212) underwent two valid neuropsychological tests of CPS, completed the Timed 25-Foot Walk (T25FW), and wore an ActiGraph model GT3X accelerometer during the waking hours of a 7-day period for objectively measuring physical activity as steps/day. Physical activity was significantly associated with CPS (r=.39, p<.01), even when controlling for age, sex, and education (pr=.26, p<.01). This association was attenuated, but still significant after further controlling for T25FW performance (pr=.13, p=.03). Physical activity behavior is positively and independently, albeit weakly, associated with CPS in persons with MS, and may play an important role in managing this aspect of cognition as it does in other outcomes in MS.


  • Physical activity and cognitive processing speed were measured in persons with MS.
  • Higher physical activity levels were associated with better cognitive processing speed.
  • The association was independent of age, sex, education, and walking performance.


  • Brian M. Sandroff 1
  • Deirdre Dlugonski 1
  • Lara A. Pilutti 1
  • John H. Pula 2, 3
  • Ralph H.B. Benedict 4
  • Robert W. Motl 1


  • 1

    Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 233 Freer Hall, 906 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana 61801, IL, United States

  • 2

    Department of Neuro-Ophthalmology, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, United States

  • 3

    Illinois Neurologic Institute, United States Illinois Neurologic Institute, United States

  • 4

    Department of Neurology, SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine, United States


Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders


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