Health and fitness: Exercise can help fatigue sufferers

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By Kent Pegg

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating illness that affects more than 1 million Americans.

While anyone, regardless of sex or age, can be stricken with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), women are four times as likely as men to be affected. People in their 40s and 50s are more susceptible

CFS is defined as an illness that produces profound and disabling body weakness that lasts six months or more. Those suferring from CFS have four or more of the following symptoms: multijoint pain, aching or stiff muscles, tender glands, sore throat, impaired memory or concentration, new headaches, unrefreshing sleep and fatigue following exertion.

CFS symptoms can range from mild to severe and can dissipate over time or last a lifetime. There is no cure for CFS and treatment usually focuses on relieving the symptoms caused by CFS.

Light-to-moderate exercise is often considered one of the best methods for minimizing the effects of CFS. Individuals stricken with CFS have a lower threshold for exercise and have a longer recovery period after exercise.

Because of this, you should start slowly. Try doing just a few minutes of low impact exercise and stretches. As you adapt to the new program, add a little more exercise at a time.

It can take a person with CFS between 24 and 36 hours to recover from even a light exercise session so make sure you have recovered before doing another exercise session.

As you progress, begin adding some light weight training exercises to your workout program and use exercises that have a very stable body position. Get some help from a trained professional who can design the right program for you.

One important thing to consider doing is to keep a log of your exercise sessions and your symptoms. Use a scale of 1 to 10 and rate your exercise intensity, your pain level, your fatigue, your symptoms and any other criteria you can think of.

This diary will allow you to determine what activities you can perform and how often you can do them.

The longer you track these things, the more you will learn about yourself and your illness. Also, this log can aid your physician in helping you.

So if you’re one of the many affected by CFS, begin an exercise program that starts easy and progresses slowly. A little time and effort will go a long way toward changing you life.

Kent Pegg is a certified personal trainer and the owner of the Los Alamos Fitness Center.  If you have any questions about this information or exercises, you can call him at 662-5232.