INTRODUCTION: The mandatory restrictions during the Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in regular physical activity and exercise affected the daily life of millions of people. Changes due to the COVID-19 outbreak in persons with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) are unknown. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on physical activity level, depression, and anxiety in pwMS.
METHODS: A total of 263 pwMS were assessed in the prospective follow-up study. Study participants in the last year were contacted by phone (from May 5 to June 5, 2020) depending on previous assessment dates, wherein 201 (154 female, 47 male) were reached during the pandemic. MS demographic and clinical characteristics were handled from the last routine examination in March 2019 to March 2020. Physical activity, anxiety, and depression information before the COVID-19 pandemic were also obtained from the assessment within the same day.
RESULTS: The physical activity assessed using the godin leisure-time exercise questionnaire (GLTEQ) improved during the pandemic (p=0.018). Anxiety and depression levels significantly decreased during the pandemic (p<0.001). Significant correlations were found between the GLTEQ and anxiety and depression subscores in the hospital anxiety and depression scale (r=-0.149, r=-0.161, p<0.05, respectively) during the pandemic. However, a correlation was not found between these variables before the pandemic (p>0.05).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: This study provides some evidence about the pandemic effects on physical activity level, depression, and anxiety in pwMS. The precaution taken to control the pandemic was already covered for three months; however, anxiety, depression, and inactivity behavior, which were also prevalent before COVID-19, was reduced.