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Your doctor may recommend a graded exercise program as part of your treatment plan for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Some people may benefit from this type of therapy.
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.
Some studies show that light aerobic exercise, such as walking, may help people who have ME/CFS feel more energetic and less tired. People vary in how much they are helped by this kind of program.footnote 1 More research is needed to better understand how well this treatment works for ME/CFS.
Work 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 ME/CFS. 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:
CitationsBrurberg 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 ConsultedCleare 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.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofOctober 9, 2017
Current as of: October 9, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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