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The lived experiences of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in relation to exercise

Borkoles, Erika; Nicholls, Adam R.; Bell, Kate; Butterly, Ron; Polman, Remco C. J.


Erika Borkoles

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Professor Adam Nicholls
Professor of Psychology/ Leader of the Sport Psychology and Coaching Group

Kate Bell

Ron Butterly

Remco C. J. Polman


The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Seven active exercisers with MS participated in semi-structured interviews regarding their exercise experiences since diagnosis. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA; Smith & Osborn, 2003). Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. The results and interpretations of narratives revealed a number of functional limitations due to the severity of MS symptoms, which were found to have a major effect on the ability of the participants to exercise. Furthermore, psychological problems and the heightened behavioural adjustments to the progressive disability led to re-appraisal of ability to exercise. Previous, relevant exercise experience made participants more determined to continue to be able to exercise after diagnosis. The wider exercise experience narratives were related to concerns about safety, dependability on others to overcome the challenges, and potential environmental hazards. The loss of spontaneous opportunities to exercise because of these actual and perceived barriers was key to this population. This research highlighted the need to rethink the health and social service arrangements in relation to exercise provision for individuals with MS.


Borkoles, E., Nicholls, A. R., Bell, K., Butterly, R., & Polman, R. C. J. (2008). The lived experiences of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in relation to exercise. Psychology & health, 23(4), 427-441.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 31, 2007
Online Publication Date Apr 8, 2008
Publication Date 2008-05
Print ISSN 0887-0446
Electronic ISSN 1476-8321
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 427-441
Keywords Applied Psychology; Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
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