Chronic fatigue syndrome is defined as a disorder indicated by extreme fatigue. According to RightDiagnosis.com, about 500,000 Americans experience this condition. In most cases, the extreme fatigue is associated with some underlying medical problem. The cause of this syndrome is unknown and experts believe that a combination of factors could be to blame.
Factors that contribute to chronic fatigue syndrome include problems linked with the immune system, viral infections, and hormonal imbalances. Treatment of this syndrome focuses on symptom relief and exercise is assumed to be beneficial. The primary purpose of this post is to inspect whether exercise can, indeed, relieve symptoms linked with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
CFS or chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms go beyond persistent and medically unexplained fatigue. The syndrome is also indicated by:
Since exercise therapy is dubbed as the best possible treatment for this condition, it is important to know the answers to basic questions to prove its efficacy. For example:
- Is it more effective than passive treatments such as relaxation?
- Is it more effective than other active therapies like adaptive pacing or cognitive behavioral therapy?
- Is it more effective alone or when combined with other treatments?
- Is it safer than other treatments recommended for chronic fatigue syndrome?
Exercise and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
To answer questions listed above, we turned to scientific researches as the only accurate and most reliable source of information regarding CFS.
Larun L. and team of scientists of the Norwegian Knowledge Center for the Health Services from Oslo, Norway conducted a thorough review of studies to inspect the benefits of exercise therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome. Study was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and scientists searched and analyzed previous studies where patients with CFS were inspected. Criteria for the included studies were quite simple; every study had to include exercise therapy and other, passive control therapies such as psychological therapy, adaptive pacing therapy as well as pharmacological therapy.
The scientists included 8 randomized controlled studies and have reported data from 1518 participants. Seven studies which were included in the review used variations of aerobic exercise therapy like swimming, walking, dancing or cycling while one study used anaerobic exercise. On the other hand, control groups consisted of passive control therapies.
Scientists Discovered that
- Seven studies showed reduction in fatigue after exercise therapy for CFS at the end of the treatment
- Adverse reactions were very rare in both groups of participants
- Only one study reported little to no improvement after exercise therapy
- One study discovered a general benefit of exercise over adaptive pacing strategy
- One study revealed a benefit of exercise over supportive listening
- Exercise therapy was more effective at reducing fatigue comparing to passive treatment or no treatment at all
- Exercise therapy had a positive effect on participants’ daily physical functioning, and self-ratings of overall health
- Exercise therapy proved to have positive effect at the end of the treatment with respect to sleep
- Exercise therapy is a safe treatment considering absence of severe side effects
- Information about pharmaceuticals and their efficacy was insufficient to draw conclusions.
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Team of researchers behind the detailed review concluded their work explaining that patients who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome may benefit and feel less fatigued following exercise therapy. Importantly, there was no evidence which suggests that exercise therapy could worsen one’s condition.
|Study ID||Exercise Type||Duration||Intensity of Exercise||Therapist contact||Adherence||Score|
|Appleby 1995||Graded exercise
|12 weeks||3 times/week, (20 mins max/session) ;
|Not Stated||Daily exercise log||32/46|
|Fulcher 1997||Graded exercise therapy-aerobic||12 weeks||5 times/week, (30 mins max/session), 40% VO2max||Weekly face to face||Weekly exercise diary||34/46|
|Moss-Morris 2003||Graded exercise therapy-aerobic||12 weeks||4-5 times/week, (30 mins max/session) 40% VO2max||Weekly face to face||Not Stated||25/46|
|Powell 2001||Graded exercise therapy-aerobic||12 weeks||Not Stated||Not Applicable||Support sessions||32/46|
|Wallman 2003||Graded exercise therapy-aerobic||12 weeks||3-4 times/week (30 mins max/session)||Telephone contact||Daily exercise log||26/46|
Table: Intervention of various studies done to show the effectiveness of exercise therapy for CFS
How to Overcome Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Exercise therapy is one of the effective ways of combating chronic fatigue syndrome. This is because it helps a person to relax and get relief from stress which causes fatigue. Also exercising enables the person to raise the heart rate and cause dilation of the blood vessels and promote the health of the blood vessels. After the exercise sessions, it is possible to have quality sleep hence reducing the chronic fatigue syndrome.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious condition which occurs due to complex and not entirely understood the cause(s). Experts believe that a combination of different factors contributes to the development of CFS. Luckily, this syndrome can be relieved effectively. Variety of therapies and treatments are available, out of which exercise therapy was dubbed to be among the most effective.
The primary purpose of this article was to inspect whether exercise therapy really is an effective way of relieving this syndrome and for that the thorough review of the same subject was included. Review of different performed studies confirmed that exercise therapy is among the most effective and safe ways of treating symptoms associated with CFS. This emphasizes the importance of new studies to be conducted that can address the question which exercise interventions (type, duration, and intensity) could be the most beneficial.
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