How to Move: Exercising with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome | Australian lifestyle
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that cannot be fully explained by any other condition.
search suggestions Exercise can have a positive impact about fatigue in people with CFS, but the evidence is limited and even minor exertion can lead to post-exercise discomfort. Sarah Comensoli, an exercise physiologist, says it’s counterintuitive to start exercising when you know there’s a risk it will cause discomfort.
Exercise isn’t a cure, says Comensoli, but it can help build function and strength and improve sleep and energy levels. “We don’t focus on eliminating all pain, we keep our focus on function,” she says. “Exercise can help people do more.”
Inactivity makes the body even less resilient and can worsen other symptoms, such as pain and stiffness. But Andrew Fitzgerald, a musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapist, says everyone has different limitations when it comes to exercise, and being aware of them is crucial for people with CFS. Exercise may not be advisable for some people.
Here’s a simple guide to exercising when living with CFS. It is always recommended to seek advice from a physical therapist or doctor before beginning any exercise program. Exercise can make the disease much worse if not done appropriately.
The course: Pilates
Pilates-based conditioning exercises provide a gentle, full-body workout that can be adapted to different fitness levels and can be beneficial for people with CFS. It combines stretching and strengthening exercises on the floor with the aim of toning the whole body through controlled and precise movements.
Pilates exercises focus on strengthening the core muscles, which can support the rest of the body. A strong core can relieve stress on your back and limbs, potentially leading to less fatigue.
Pilates may not be the right place to start for those who haven’t been active in a while. But for those who already have some level of mobility and a low level of stiffness, Pilates can improve strength and overall fitness.
The move: leg press
“Exercise while lying down or lying down is generally a good starting point for someone with chronic fatigue,” says Melissa Williams, an integrative physical therapist.
Strength exercises on the floor can counteract the muscle deconditioning that occurs when people go sedentary for long periods of time.
A simple version of the leg press is an exercise that can help strengthen the lower body.
First, lie on your back with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet in the air. Place a resistance band under your arches, hold the ends of the band in your hands, and regulate the tension by moving your hands toward or away from your armpits.
Without lifting your hips off the floor, bring your knees to your chest, and then push your legs away from you against the resistance band as far as is comfortable. Then bring your knees back to your chest.
You can further modify the exercise by straightening one leg at a time or removing the resistance band.
Strengthening important muscles, such as the leg muscles, can improve mechanical efficiency in carrying out daily activities. However, with resistance exercises like the leg press, it’s highly recommended not to reach exhaustion as it can worsen fatigue.
“[Exercise] it’s about making sure someone can get their day-to-day chores done before worrying about doing something too technical or hardcore,” says Comensoli.
The activity: hiking
the energy requirements when walking can be significantly greater for people with CFS compared to other people. But regular walks, even if they last just a few minutes, can help people with CFS get exercise in a controllable way.
wear and tear a pedometer and a heart rate monitor can help you measure how far – and at what intensity – you can walk before reaching a state of fatigue. This can help you determine the level of activity you can tolerate without experiencing side effects or post-exercise discomfort.
The hard way: high-intensity activity
“High-intensity or endurance activities like long-distance running aren’t recommended,” says Fitzgerald.
“That’s not to say these things are off the table indefinitely,” says Williams. “But it’s important to have a program that’s tailored to how your body is responding.”
Williams says progress isn’t always gradual or linear, and rest plays a crucial role in managing CFS.
“Some CFS sufferers feel like they have to assert themselves in order to get better or make progress,” she says.
“Our advice to people is to listen to your body and do what it tells you.”