Abstract: Randomised controlled trial of graded exercise in chronic fatigue syndrome

Med J Aust. 2004 May 3;180(9):444-8.

Wallman KE, Morton AR, Goodman C, Grove R, Guilfoyle AM.

School of Human Movement and Exercise Science, University of Western Australia, Stirling Highway, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia. kwallman@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether 12 weeks of graded exercise with pacing would improve specific physiological, psychological and cognitive functions in people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial.

SETTING: Human performance laboratory at the University of Western Australia.

PARTICIPANTS: 61 patients aged between 16 and 74 years diagnosed with CFS.

INTERVENTIONS: Either graded exercise with pacing (32 patients) or relaxation/flexibility therapy (29 patients) performed twice a day over 12 weeks.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes in any of the physiological, psychological or cognitive variables assessed.

RESULTS: Following the graded exercise intervention, scores were improved for resting systolic blood pressure (P = 0.018), work capacity (W.kg(-1)) (P = 0.019), net blood lactate production (P = 0.036), depression (P = 0.027) and performance on a modified Stroop Colour Word test (P = 0.029). Rating of perceived exertion scores, associated with an exercise test, was lower after graded exercise (P = 0.013). No such changes were observed in the relaxation/flexibility condition, which served as an attention-placebo control.

CONCLUSIONS: Graded exercise was associated with improvements in physical work capacity, as well as in specific psychological and cognitive variables. Improvements may be associated with the abandonment of avoidance behaviours.

PMID: 15115421 [PubMed – in process]

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