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January 20, 2010 at 7:46 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Why Do I Need A Graded Exercise Program For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

If you have chronic fatigue syndrome, the thought of exercise may sound crazy. It's hard to think about exercise when you can barely make it through the day. But studies show that light exercise can improve your symptoms, and too much rest can make them worse. This article will explain why you need a graded exercise program for chronic fatigue syndrome, and how you can go about starting one.

Graded exercise explained

You may be wondering, "What is graded exercise?" A graded exercise program is different than a normal exercise program. The idea is to start out small and increase the amount of exercise VERY slowly. This may mean walking five minutes every two days, even when you are feeling good and think you could do more. After two weeks, you may want to increase it to seven minutes every two days. You may want to see a specialist, a physiologist, to design the right program for you and monitor your progress.

The benefits of a graded exercise program

When you have chronic fatigue syndrome, you may feel like you have little control over your body and can't do anything for yourself. A graded exercise program can build your confidence as you gain back control of your life. A graded exercise program will help you get stronger and control your symptoms. Studies have found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome that exercise on a regular basis function better and experience less fatigue. In two studies, 69-80 percent of CFS patients experienced improvements in their symptoms.

Too much or too little

You have good days and bad days when you have chronic fatigue syndrome. On good days, you may feel like you can exercise more than you should. If you do, you could cause a relapse of your symptoms. When you don't exercise, your body gets weaker and has a hard time fighting off illness and fatigue. A graded exercise program tells you what to do and when, so you don't exert yourself too much or too little.

How to get started

Pick a mild exercise, like walking, swimming, stretching or yoga. You want to find the right amount of exercise that will allow you to benefit without overexerting yourself. When getting started, keep in mind:

  • Put aside your worries and doubts and keep a positive attitude about exercising
  • Start out very slowly, especially if you haven't been exercising very much lately
  • Increase your amount of exercise very slowly, sometimes only by one minute
  • Take plenty of rests
  • If you push yourself too hard, you will get overtired and relapse
  • When you need to, take some time off to recuperate
  • You will experience setbacks, but don't let them get you down
  • Keep a chart to track your progress

A graded exercise program will help you control your symptoms by increasing your strength and keeping you from performing too much or too little exercise. You may want to consult with a physiologist to design the right program for you.


Photo Credit: uonottingham

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  • I have CFS/ME and I started with only 1 minute exercise and I am now up to 5 minutes exercise. It has taken 2 weeks to get up to 5 minutes walking. I have noticed a dramtatic improvement in my fatigue, so much so that it feels like I am buzzing with energy at times just from doing a bit of exercise. I do hope I can recover from Chronic fatigue Syndrome one day as I am only 22. I remember when I was 16-20 I was cycling in the forest 45 miles everyday and I was super fit, but at the moment I can only do 5 minutes but hope in time I will improve.

  • I exercise everyday now, I am almost getting to the 10 minute mark, it is amazing, soon I will be rid of this horrible illness Chronic fatigue Syndrome, I have rested for too long and it is time to spread my wings. I know not to go for a 20 minute walk as I will have a relapse which last time lasted a whole month and a half, but I believe I will recover from Chronic fatigue Syndrome, even if it is just 10-15 minutes per day, I know I will recover.

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