Pilates and MS….. the PhD journey ends……… a new chapter begins ….. – Dr. Karl Fleming.

Greetings again out there in Blog land, I am back to update you on my research endeavours over the last few months, and what a time it has been. Finally, my thesis by publication, “The effects of Pilates on symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue among people with Multiple Sclerosis” has made it to the promised land, and I graduated with my Doctor of Philosophy on the 17th of January, 2023.


Fleming, K.M. and Herring, M.P. (2018) ‘The effects of Pilates on mental health outcomes: a meta-analysis of controlled trials’, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 37, 80-95, available: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2018.02.003. (IF: 3.335)

Fleming, K.M., Coote, S.B. and Herring, M.P. (2019) ‘The feasibility of Pilates to improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue among people with Multiple Sclerosis: An 8-week randomised controlled pilot trial’, Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 45, 101573, available: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2019.101573. (IF:5.118)

Fleming, K.M., Herring, M.P., Coote, S.B. and Tindall (2021) ‘Participant experiences of eight weeks of supervised or home-based Pilates among people with Multiple Sclerosis: A qualitative analysis’, Disability and Rehabilitation, available: doi: 10.1080/09638288.2021.1939446. (IF: 2.439) 

Fleming, K.M., Coote, S.B. and Herring, M.P. (2020) ‘An eight-week randomised controlled trial of home-based Pilates for symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue among people with MS with minimal-to-mild mobility disability: Study protocol’, Mental Health and Physical Activity, 19, 100341, available: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mhpa.2020.100341. (IF: 5.957)

Fleming, K.M., Coote, S.B. and Herring, M.P. (2021) ‘Home-based Pilates for Symptoms of Anxiety, Depression, and Fatigue among Persons with Multiple Sclerosis: An Eight-week Randomized Controlled Trial’, Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 1-13, available: http:dx.doi.org/10.1177/13524585211009216. (IF: 5.855)

Importantly, eight weeks of twice-weekly home-based Pilates resulted in significantly improved anxiety, depressive, and fatigue symptoms, among PwMS with minimal-to-mild mobility disability, including moderate-to-large clinically meaningful improvements in depressive and fatigue symptoms. The powered RCT, now published as the primary evidence in the exercise-mental health among PwMS research area within the high-impact and high-quality Multiple Sclerosis Journal, was underpinned by cumulative and appropriately-evolving meta-analytic, feasibility, and qualitative evidence produced and gleaned throughout the published programme of research.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge a number of key people, who without their support and guidance along the way, this would not have been possible. To my supervisors, Dr. Matthew Herring, Professor Susan Coote, and Dr. Daniel Tindall, my sincere gratitude and thanks for your continued presence, friendship, support, creativity, commitment, and patience, to this programme of research. To all the present and past members of the exercise psychology lab team and the MS team, for your guidance and knowledge throughout this incredible journey. To all the NCEF team, for your unwavering support, assistance, patience, and friendship throughout. To all the participants: thank you most sincerely for providing your time and availability. And finally, to my father, Patrick, and sister Rita, and brother Ronan who I lost along the way, I hope the man above has you busy yet happy, in those heavenly gardens.

To conclude, a new chapter has begun, and I am eager to continue this line of research, while seeking further opportunities to grow as a researcher and an individual.

Dr. Karl Fleming recently completed his structured PhD in UL.  His research topic concerns an analysis on the effects of Pilates on symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue among people with Multiple Sclerosis.  He is a Pilates instructor and his background is in the area of physical activity, both as an instructor/person trainer.  He lectures at Certificate, Diploma, and Degree levels for the National Council for Exercise & Fitness, who are based in the University of Limerick. 

Email: karl.fleming@ul.ie   ORCID 

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