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You may be thinking, "How can I
exercise when I'm so tired I can barely get through the day?" You
can do it, as long as you start out very slowly and are
careful not to overexert yourself. Most important, it will make you feel
Graded exercise starts out slowly and increases in very small steps. It means that you have a
plan for your exercise and you stay with it, even when you're having a good day
and feel like doing more. This helps your body
make the changes it needs to cope with activity and exercise.
Studies show that light aerobic exercise, such as walking,
helps people who have
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) feel more energetic and
less tired.1 Maybe you have avoided exercise because
you're afraid it will make you feel worse. But the opposite is true. Total rest
leaves your body in worse shape. It can also hurt your self-image by making you
feel as if you can't do anything for yourself.
with your doctor to draw up a specific plan for your needs and abilities. But
there also are things you can do on your own.
Walking is an excellent
form of aerobic exercise for people who have chronic fatigue syndrome. Other gentle
exercises, such as riding a bicycle or stationary bike or swimming, are also
good. You need to find a balance so that you are exercising enough to benefit
from it but not exercising so much that you become overtired. Here are some
things to think about:
Reid S, et al. (2011). Chronic fatigue syndrome, search date March 2010. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008).
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP
Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Other Works Consulted
Togo F, et al. (2010). Sleep is not disrupted by exercise in patients with chronic fatigue syndromes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 42(1): 16–22.
White PD, et al. (2011). Comparison of adaptive pacing therapy, cognitive behaviour
therapy, graded exercise therapy, and specialist medical care
for chronic fatigue syndrome (PACE): A randomised trial. Lancet, 377(9768): 823–826.
January 18, 2013
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
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