Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts the central nervous system. MS generally results in decreased mobility and work capacity. Our objective was to determine exercise testing responses on both a treadmill and cycle ergometer among individuals with MS who were able to ambulate freely.

Methods: Twenty-six individuals with MS participated in a cross-sectional study (44 ± 11 years; body mass index 26.8 ± 6.2 kg·m−2; expanded disability scale score 3.1 ± 0.9), with 24 individuals with complete test data for both treadmill and cycle ergometry tests. Peak aerobic capacity (VO2peak) for both treadmill and cycle ergometry tests were measured with indirect calorimetry.

Results: Participants safely completed both treadmill and cycle ergometry tests, and treadmill testing yielded higher values (26.7 ± 6.4 mL·kg−1·min−1) compared with cycle ergometry (23.7 ± 5.7 mL·kg−1·min−1), with values ~12% greater for treadmill. When comparing tests to their respected predicted values within modality, treadmill tests were 8% lower and cycle ergometry tests were 10% lower than predicted.

Conclusions: While peak aerobic capacity was very low for this population, treadmill tests were still higher than cycle ergometry data, with this difference between modes being similar to that observed in healthy adult populations. Additional research is required to determine if these findings are impacted by participation in physical activity or regular exercise.

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