Why Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Exercise Is So Important (and How To Do It)

For those with chronic fatigue syndrome, it isn’t so simple as just feeling tired. People with CFS experience extreme bouts of exhaustion that don’t go away with rest along with a host of other symptoms. While there isn’t a cure, holistic strategies like stress relief and the right chronic fatigue syndrome exercise can help alleviate your symptoms. 

Just because you have chronic fatigue syndrome doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. In fact, once you find the right routine, exercise can be a really effective strategy to help you stay healthy. 

Why Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Exercise Is So Important (and How To Do It) | Quit Chronic Fatigue

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? 

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), formally known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, mainly causes severe tiredness. This unbearable exhaustion can last up to six months. 

Alongside that extreme fatigue, many people who have chronic fatigue syndrome have other symptoms, like difficulty concentrating and sensitivity to light or sound. Physically, CFS can cause headaches, dizziness, sore throats, muscle tenderness, swollen lymph nodes, and digestive issues. 

Although millions of Americans experience CFS, about 90% of those cases go undetected. There isn’t one specific set of diagnostic criteria for this condition, and currently, there is no cure. Instead, once you receive a diagnosis, you’ll work with your doctor to come up with a holistic treatment plan for your symptoms. And chronic fatigue syndrome exercise is one of those symptom-alleviating strategies. 

Why Is The Right Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Exercise So Important? 

Chronic fatigue syndrome exercise is doable (and can have many benefits), but it is essential not to overwork yourself! Many people experience post-exertional malaise, or PEM, alongside their CFS. PEM means that your body is crashing from over-exertion. 

PEM can make your chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms even worse. Increased feelings of fatigue and pain are some signs that show you may have pushed your body too far. 

For those who experience PEM, rest is the most important step in recovery. Trying to push through the pain and fatigue will only make you feel worse. 

Chronic fatigue syndrome patients need to be careful when it comes to exercising. Too much exertion can make them feel even worse. It can also be very dangerous for their bodies. 

As someone with CSF, it is imperative that you know your body’s limits. Working with a medical professional can help you determine boundaries and goals to be able to achieve chronic fatigue syndrome exercise. 

Even more important, you need to be specific about how you implement chronic fatigue syndrome exercise in your routine. 

How To Actually Find The Best Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Exercise For You 

Here are some ways to determine which methods of chronic fatigue syndrome exercise work best for your body.

Make sure to talk to a doctor or medical professional about your condition and symptoms before attempting any chronic fatigue syndrome exercise. 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Exercise Should Be Gentle and Low-Impact 

Chronic fatigue syndrome affects every person differently. Your body’s limits may differ from someone else who has CFS. 

As a result, chronic fatigue syndrome exercise routines will vary. Generally, low-impact activities like walking, light strength training, and pilates are great choices. With these exercises, there is less pressure on your joints—which means there is less of a chance of muscle and joint pain or achiness later. 

Yoga and stretching are great for lengthening your tired muscles, relaxing, and reducing stress. These activities might help your body feel more at ease. 

Start Off Slowly and Pace Yourself 

Chronic fatigue syndrome can be so severe that people sometimes struggle with doing basic chores, like vacuuming or cleaning. Going full force into a chronic fatigue syndrome exercise routine will lead you more to PEM. 

Start off slow. There is no rush to start! The slower you go, the more you’ll learn about your body’s needs. 

Try making your bed on a daily basis or dusting shelves. Building up your tolerance with chores helps your physical and mental state. 

Remember that exercise with CFS should be a gradual process. Pacing yourself allows you to be able to work out more days during the week while still getting the rest you need. 

It is very important to incorporate rest into your chronic fatigue syndrome exercise routine. Working for 15-30 minutes and then resting for 15-30 minutes gives your body the opportunity to recover. If you work for long increments, your body is more likely to crash. 

If any part of your new routine feels too painful or tiring, stop immediately. Whether it’s light weights or finishing a load of laundry, you don’t want to go over your limit. Pushing through fatigue or soreness can worsen your symptoms. 

Turn On Some Music While You Exercise 

Many people who have CFS struggle with concentrating and staying focused. Listening to music can actually help with that. How?

Music can raise your dopamine levels, which boosts focus and motivation. Playing music during exercise can motivate you while making it more fun. 

If your dopamine levels are high, other hormones are affected. Cortisol, which is a stress-related hormone, can decrease with high levels of dopamine. Less stress means a better sleep pattern and a hardy appetite. 

Try Seated Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Exercise Types 

For many people with chronic fatigue syndrome, exercising while sitting down can reduce the pressure from reduced blood flow. This means that you might have a higher tolerance for exercise in a seated position. 

Using stationary pedals is a great chronic fatigue syndrome exercise. It allows the seated position while providing motion in your legs. 

Remember to start slow. Try completing five minutes on the stationary pedals. If you want your exercise routine to focus on your full body, you can add light weights to your routine. Lifting 1 or 2-pound weights in one or two sets can help strengthen your upper body. 

Practice Mindfulness 

Chronic fatigue syndrome takes as much of a mental toll as it does a physical one. Maintaining a positive mindset is hard work. But establishing a more present mindset during your chronic fatigue syndrome exercise can help reframe your way of thinking. 

Shifting your attention to your breathing can help you feel more present. You can also learn different breathing exercises, like the 4-7-8 method, to help ground you in your exercise. 

Positive affirmations are another great way to practice mindfulness. By recognizing your progress and your actions, you are increasing your confidence. It is more likely that you’ll want to continue your CFS exercise routine the more confident you feel in it.

Make Sure You’re Fueling Your Body With Healthy Foods 

Fueling your body affects the way you exercise. A lack of protein, fiber, supplements, and fruits and vegetables can hold your body back. You may feel more tired and achy if your body isn’t getting the correct nutrients. 

Avoid eating inflammatory and processed, packaged food whenever possible. If you don’t have a good intake of nutrients, your muscles will have a harder time recovering. You might also experience negative mood changes and more exhaustion. 


You are the leader of your body! While chronic fatigue syndrome may affect you in different ways, you have the power to incorporate chronic fatigue syndrome exercises into your daily routine. 

By knowing your limits and sticking to them, you can enjoy a happy, restful life with better health. 

Why Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Exercise Is So Important (and How To Do It) | Quit Chronic Fatigue

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