Can exercise limits prevent post-exertional malaise in chronic fatigue syndrome? An uncontrolled clinical trial

Department of Human Physiology, Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.
Clinical Rehabilitation (Impact Factor: 2.24). 06/2008; 22(5):426-35. DOI: 10.1177/0269215507084410
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT It was hypothesized that the use of exercise limits prevents symptom increases and worsening of their health status following a walking exercise in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.
An uncontrolled clinical trial (semi-experimental design).
Outpatient clinic of a university department.
Twenty-four patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Subjects undertook a walking test with the two concurrent exercise limits. Each subject walked at an intensity where the maximum heart rate was determined by heart rate corresponding to the respiratory exchange ratio = 1.0 derived from a previous submaximal exercise test and for a duration calculated from how long each patient felt they were able to walk.
The Short Form 36 Health Survey or SF-36, the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptom List, and the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome -Activities and Participation Questionnaire were filled in prior to, immediately after and 24 hours after exercise.
The fatigue increase observed immediately post-exercise (P= 0.006) returned to pre-exercise levels 24 hours post-exercise. The increase in pain observed immediately post-exercise was retained at 24 hours post-exercise (P=0.03). Fourteen of the 24 subjects experienced a clinically meaningful change in bodily pain (change of SF-36 bodily pain score > or =10); 6 indicated that the exercise bout had slightly worsened their health status, and 2 had a clinically meaningful decrease in vitality (change of SF-36 vitality score > or =20). There was no change in activity limitations/participation restrictions.
It was shown that the use of exercise limits (limiting both the intensity and duration of exercise) prevents important health status changes following a walking exercise in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, but was unable to prevent short-term symptom increases.

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