Experts Say: The Best Medicine for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is… Exercise?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, an illness marked by exhaustion and joint and muscle pain, affects more than 1 million Americans, mainly women.  Although the disease lacks a widely accepted cure, studies show that avoiding exercise altogether is the worst thing to do.

Effective activity management has been proven to help improve mood, sleep, pain and other symptoms so that CFS patients can function better and engage in activities of daily living.  It was reported that while vigorous aerobic exercise is beneficial for many chronic diseases, exercise programs aimed at increasing aerobic capacity are not recommended for CFS patients.

Studies through The Center for Disease Control (CDC) say a balance of brief intervals of exercise followed by adequate rest is very beneficial to those battling the disease. Reports say:

“It’s important not to avoid activity and exercise altogether because such avoidance leads to serious deconditioning and can actually worsen other symptoms.  Balancing rest and activity will avoid deconditioning due to lack of activity and prevent flare-ups from overexertion.”

For those battling CFS, an effective exercise program consists of several daily sessions of brief, low- impact activity.  CDC reports that simple stretching and strengthening exercise using only body weight for resistance is an adequate starting place.  All exercise needs to be followed by a rest period at a 1:3 ratio, exercising for one minute then resting for three minutes.  These sessions can be slowly increased by one to five minutes a week as tolerance develops.

A team of scientists from the Medical Fitness Association (MFA) say that light aerobic exercise, such as walking, helps people with CFS feel more energetic and less tired.  They say:

“The reason may be a combination of producing endorphins (the pleasure hormone that our brains make when we exercise) and attaining a sense of accomplishment at having reversed the loss of function that befalls people with CFS”

You may learn more about treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at: http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/general/treatment/index.html and http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/cfs/cfs_exercise.htm

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