Increasing exercise each day can help patients with Chronic Fatigue System to feel less tired and feel better, a new study suggests.
Scientists at Queen Mary University of London placed 200 people on a 12 week programme in which they were either encouraged by a physiotherapist to walk a little more each or given a programme of medical care including medication for depression, pain and insomnia.
After four months the mean fatigue score of the exercise group was four points lower than in the control group, on a scale of 100, which researchers said was a moderate but significant impact. Physical function was also six points higher.
One in five of the group who had exercised also reported feeling ‘much better’ or ‘very much better.’
Lead author Dr Lucy Clark said: “We found that a self-help approach to a graded exercise programme, guided by a therapist, was safe and also helped to reduce fatigue for some people with chronic fatigue syndrome, suggesting that it might be useful as an initial treatment for patients to help manage symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
“We are now looking at whether the effects were maintained beyond 12 weeks.
“The aim is to progress carefully to improve rather than pushing people too hard and towards a setback.”
CFS affects about seven in 1000 people and is characterised by chronic, disabling fatigue in the absence of an alternative diagnosis.
The self-help exercise programmed involved slowly building up physical activity levels after establishing a daily routine, with the support of a physiotherapist over the phone or Skype.
The research was published in The Lancet.