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A large body of evidence supports the notion that patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) benefit from physical exercise. However, this research-based recommendation has been insufficiently translated into practice. In this commentary article, we highlight the psychological evidence for the intention–behaviour gap and discuss evidence-based recommendations for bridging this gap, with the aim to change behaviour in MS patients. It is accepted that psychological research distinguishes intention formation from intention realization and that these processes have to be considered when the aim is to enhance physical activity in MS patients. We suggest that the transtheoretical model of behaviour change is a useful and general framework for examining the process of intention formation and that a MS-specific perspective is more useful for realizing exercise intention. MS patients are faced with severe self-control demands that hinder the realization of sport and exercise goals. Specifically, MS patients experience fatigue, which imposes substantial self-control demands. Here, we suggest implementation intention as an effective tool that aids in counteracting deficits in intention realization (getting started and staying on track). We also note that research knowledge is not sufficiently translated into clinical practice. Based on an interdisciplinary approach we recommend that therapists of MS patients should be more aware of psychological theories of health behaviour change and that they should use these to improve and optimize treatment approaches.
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- Exercise in Multiple Sclerosis: Knowing is Not Enough—The Crucial Role of Intention Formation and Intention Realization
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