Graded Exercise Program for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
We all know that exercise can improve our energy level, but for someone suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), exercise can be detrimental to daily function. It is more practical for those with CFS to think of exercise in different terms than others may. For some, exercise means running for 30 minutes and lifting weights for another 30. If you have CFS, that sort of exercise would be impossible. It's important to think of exercising as engaging in a physical activity that feels good and can improve your energy level, whatever that activity may be. If you suffer from CFS, it is important to find the level of physical activity that can best alleviate your CFS without causing further aggravation.
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) causes severe fatigue, making you too tired to perform normal, daily functions, which may have never caused a problem before. It is generally not improved by rest and lasts at least six months. It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when feeling so tired, but the benefits of gentle, carefully regulated exercise can prove effective.
Symptoms of CFS
- Severe tiredness or exhaustion
- Difficulty performing tasks that should or used to be easy
- Trouble sleeping
- Some body aches and pains
What is a Graded Exercise Program?
A Graded Exercise Program involves the gradual increase in either the duration of exercise or the level of intensity of the action, whichever may work for you. It's important to consult your doctor and together create a program that will optimize your activity level without aggravating your CFS. Having a program is good for many reasons. It sets realistic goals for your daily (or weekly) activity. With it you can keep track of which exercises work for you, and how long you can exercise without overexerting yourself. And, after a few months, you can look back and gauge your improvement through the program.
How to Start a Graded Exercise Program
Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning a program. Think about what activities your might enjoy doing and where you like to be. Some people prefer to be outdoors, walking or doing yoga, or maybe you have a favorite spot in your house where you go to relax. Maybe begin at home by doing some gentle stretching and basic Yoga or Tai Chi movements. Then, if you find these work for you, try a short walk just once a week. Whatever you do, be sure to pay attention to how you are feeling before, during and after exercising. Record these observations in order to tweak your program as you need. Remember that you define what exercise means to you. Be sure to engage in activities that make you feel good and don't over exert yourself. Pay attention to what you eat and drink, as some foods and beverages can only worsen your CFS.
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