Body composition and physical function in women with multiple sclerosis

Christie L. Ward, Yoojin Suh, Abbi D. Lane, Huimin Yan, Sushant M. Ranadive, Bo Fernhall, Robert W. Motl, Ellen M. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) have reduced physical activity (PA) and lower-limb physical function and potentially disordered body composition compared with their peers without MS. The aim of this study was to determine whether PA and body composition were differentially associated with lower-limb physical function in persons with MS compared with controls. Females with MS and age- and body mass index-matched female controls (n = 51; average age 48.1 +/- 9.7 yr) were measured for PA with daily step counts, relative fat mass (%Fat), and leg lean mass (LM-LEG) via dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and for lower-limb physical function with objective performance tests. Persons with MS had 12.5% to 53% poorer lower-limb physical function than controls (all p < 0.05). PA, %Fat, and LM-LEG to body mass ratio (LM-LEG/BM) were associated with lower-limb physical function in both persons with MS and controls (all p < 0.05). Based on median splits, higher %Fat, lower LM-LEG/BM, and MS conferred poorer lower-limb physical function (all p < 0.05). PA, %Fat, and LM-LEG/BM were associated with lower-limb physical function, suggesting that body composition, specifically reducing adiposity and increasing lean mass and/or increasing PA levels, may be a potential target for MS interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1147
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013


  • 6-minute walk
  • Adiposity
  • Body composition
  • Lean mass
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Pedometer step counts
  • Physical activity
  • Physical function
  • Weight status
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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