How fatigue influences exercise participation in men with multiple sclerosis

Document Type

Journal Article


Sage Publications, Inc.

Place of Publication

Thousand Oaks, California, United States


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Originally published as: Smith, C. M., Fitzgerald, J. M., & Whitehead, L. (2015). How fatigue influences exercise participation in men with multiple sclerosis. Qualitative Health Research, 25(2), 179-188. Original article available here


Researchers have suggested that men with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience lower self-efficacy than women with MS and have linked women’s self-efficacy with a sense of perceived control over symptoms and activities. Self-efficacy— the belief in one’s own ability to achieve an outcome—has also been linked to engagement in healthy behaviors such as exercise. We sampled men with MS to better understand how MS-related fatigue influences exercise participation. Guided by the interpretive description method, we interviewed 18 men about their fatigue and exercise experiences. One overarching theme and three subthemes were developed through multiple readings, author comparisons, and participant reflections. The men described a process of goal readjustment with regard to exercise that helped them stay engaged in meaningful physical activity despite fatigue. Health care professionals might consider introducing goal readjustment strategies to help men with MS-related fatigue retain perceived control over exercise engagement and achieve greater self-efficacy.