Chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS is a disorder characterized by extreme and prolonged exhaustion combined with several other symptoms such as muscle and joint pains, headache, sore throat and other flu-like symptoms. The exact cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is yet to be discovered and it may take years before the individual can recover from the ailment.
Sometimes, the CFS victims suffer recurring bouts with CFS through their lifetime. Because the exact cause of CFS is yet to be determined, there is no known cure for this illness yet. Non-drug treatments and medications are primarily to relieve the many symptoms of CFS.
One of the non-drug therapies put forward by doctors, as a treatment for CFS, is exercise. However. Medical opinion is still divided on whether exercise can actually help improve or worsen the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Some doctors believe that mild exercise can be helpful in overcoming CFS. Others warn against any form of aerobic activity that can aggravate CFS.
Exercise can be a problem for people with chronic fatigue syndrome because strenuous physical activity can worsen the symptoms of CFS such as muscle pain, fatigue and tenderness of the joints. While exercise is important in maintaining health and wellness, it can become dangerous for people with chronic fatigue. But a recent study released by the British Medical Journal has revealed that proper patient education on chronic fatigue syndrome combined with a supervised exercise program can help improve the symptoms of CFS.
Still, people with CFS typically find it difficult to perform basic activities such as walking let alone do rigorous physical activities such as aerobic exercise. During an onset of chronic fatigue, the patient may be bedridden. They usually feel better after some time and may attempt to do regular exercise. However there is danger that the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome may relapse once the individual attempts aerobic activity.
Muscular activity causes lactic acid to be produced in the muscles. This chemical by-product leads to fatigue. Research says that exercise can worsen the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome because it sets off production of excess lactic acid in the muscles. Recent studies reveal that people with CFS actually produce twice the amount of lactic acid than people without chronic fatigue syndrome. Researches believe that their findings suggest a link between chronic fatigue syndrome and an error in the body’s energy metabolism.
Researchers are also looking at a link between chronic fatigue and low levels of potassium electrolytes. A deficiency in potassium supply usually causes chronic fatigue. The bulk of the body’s potassium supply is in the muscle tissue as well as the brain, blood and internal organs. Studies have revealed that people with chronic fatigue syndrome have actually less total body potassium compared to healthy people of the same weight and age.
On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle can also cause a whole range of health problems for people with CFS. These include loss of bone mass, muscle wastage or atrophy, and increased vulnerability to obesity and cardiovascular disease. People with chronic fatigue syndrome should have a gentle approach to physical activity.
There should only be minute increases in the frequency, intensity and duration of the exercise program to prevent any detrimental effects to the health and well-being of the chronic fatigue syndrome patient.