Effects Of Exercise In Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Those of us with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome know fully well from experience that we have substantial worsening of our symptoms after exercise. We definitely don’t need any research study done to prove that! But there was a study conducted on this subject by the Department of Neurosciences, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – New Jersey Medical School, USA; Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, the University of Tokyo, Japan.

Even though it has been explored before that symptoms worsen after exercise, this study was conducted to show the time course over which these worsening symptoms develop. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of exercise on subjective symptoms and on cognitive function in CFS patients in natural settings using a computerized ecological momentary assessment method, which allowed researchers to track the effects of exercise within and across days.

Subjects used for this study included 9 CFS female patients and 9 healthy female subjects. A watch-type computer was used to collect real-time data on physical and psychological symptoms and cognitive function for 1 week before and 2 weeks after a maximal exercise test. For each variable, researchers investigated temporal changes after exercise using multilevel modeling.

After exercise, it was shown that physical symptoms do get worse but not until a five-day delay in CFS patients. There was no difference in the temporal pattern of changes in psychological symptoms or in cognitive function after exercise between CFS patients and controls.

Physical symptoms worsened after several days delay in patients with CFS following exercise while psychological symptoms or cognitive function did not change after exercise.

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  1. I have most likely had Fibromyalgia and CFS since early teens. I hated to exercise, or play outside with the other kids. The fact that we lived in the San Joaquin Valley of central California probably did not help. Summer time temps rose on a regular basis to 110 -115 degrees. This did not seem to deter the other children, but I hated it and so early on earned the tags, “lazy” and “Book Worm” The only exercise I enjoyed was swimming, and that was more playing in the water than serious swimming.

    My mother never understood this and considered me lazy, her attitude was picked up by my siblings and I was just “lazy” to all of them. No way could I explain, that to be physically active, caused me to be in pain afterward.

    As a young mother, I knew that taking care of the children and light house hold duties were the extent of activity I could engage in without paying the price of several days on the couch. Fortunately, my husband understood, coming from a home where his mother could work outside the home but it was impossible for his father due to pain and fatigue. My husband did all the “heavy” work, laundry, window washing, waxing hardwood floors, deeply cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms etc.

    When I was in my mid-thirties, I had multiple surgeries for different reasons, and ended up spending nearly 5 years doing virtually nothing but looking after the kids while my husband was at work. As the years went by, I gradually improved to the point I could do something for 1/2 a day every other day, then a full day every other day. By this time “lazy” had mostly evolved to “malingering”. After about 5 years I was strong enough, I thought to go to work. I had never worked, dropping out of college to have babies, then being a stay at home Mom.

    I worked as a sales floor clerk in a department store for all of six weeks before I was terribly sick again. This time was kidney infection and stones. I had surgery and was again 18 mos-2 years getting enough strength back to return to work. I finished my degree, found I hated teaching, but did love to sell high ticket items. I fell into a sales position with a national mattress company, that paid very high commissions and I found it not too difficult to sell the high end beds. That was in 1990 and a good queen size set averaged $800-$900. A lot of money back then. The same quality beds now are $3,000 and up.

    I worked as a sales person, then a store manager, then a top store manager finally working my way into middle management and a 70 hour week as a district sales manager covering three New England states. I worked at that 70 hour a week pace for a bit more than three years. Then my world crashed.

    I was barely able to get out of bed, then frequently could not remember why I had gotten up. 5-6 years of doctor rounds primarily because I fainted frequently A heart condition was found that when treated stopped the fainting, but I was still exhausted. Then came the rounds of mental therapist who thought I was merely tired of working and faking the pain, fatigue, cognitive issues and on and on. Finally, I found and Internist who said, “I do mot know what is wrong with you, but I do know you are not making this up. I have never seen a patient just suddenly loose all color and be seemingly unaware of it. If you can find the patience, we will find some answers.”

    She suspected CFS right away and sent me to a Rheumatologist who confirmed her suspicions and also found the Fibromyalgia and a slew of other muscle related illnesses. He just flat said, “you will never work again, but I will help you get SSDI” After three years I was finally awarded SSDI and he told me, I was the only patient he had ever recommended or commented on the forms that this person could not work.

    I am now 65 years old and too weak to walk any distance, therefore Medicare purchased a power chair for me. The doctors, said I was too weak, yet exercise intolerant to use a scooter, which we had purchased several years before. I am just getting used to using the chair in public areas like libraries, where aisles are not always 36 inches wide.

    If I had just the Fibromyalgia and not the co-existing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I could most likely function better. But, not being able to exercise just leads one to becoming weaker and weaker. Even aquatic exercises have the same effect, so now I am told to stay ahead of the pain with multiple narcotic pain relievers, stay up doing hobbies (genealogy, and polymer clay figures) as much as possible and rest when I first feel that I am tiring. Even though this has now been going on close to 11 years, I still strain at the restrictions and regularly make plans for activities I know I cannot follow through on.

    Empathy to all who are caught in this viscous cycle, and perhaps one day science will find an answer for those of us who are for the most part a forgotten part of modern medicine

  2. DrSCGupta says:

    I am 61years old very active ,very much interested in outdoor games like badminton &lawn tennis.ply it verywell with good performance.whenever play it more or any workouts then feel lot of muscular pain & fatigue & I find it difficult to do my routine duty which is sitting for 8-9 hours.I do,t know how to overcome this problem.

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