Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Using Graded Exercise to Get More Energy
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. If your fatigue is severe, this can mean starting out with 1 minute of gentle movement, like stretching. And it means that you have a
plan 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,
may help people who have
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) feel more energetic and
less tired. People vary in how much they are helped by this kind of program.footnote 1 Maybe you have avoided it 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 make 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 stretching, riding a bicycle or stationary bike, or swimming, are also
good. Try to find a balance so that you are moving or exercising enough to benefit
from it but not so much that you get overtired. Here are some
things to think about:
Brurberg L, et al. (2015). Exercise as treatment for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003200.pub4/pdf/abstract. Accessed February 23, 2016.
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. Available online: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx.
Other Works Consulted
Cleare A, et al. (2015). Chronic fatigue syndrome. BMJ Clinical Evidence, published online September 28, 2015. http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/x/pdf/clinical-evidence/en-gb/systematic-review/1101.pdf. Accessed February 23, 2016.
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.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofMarch 29, 2016
Current as of:
March 29, 2016
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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