Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating condition that can affect young children through to adults. Characterised by unattributable fatigue, CFS sufferers can have symptoms such as muscle pain, poor sleep, concentration and memory issues along with severe levels of fatigue. These symptoms can affect many activities of daily living restricting aspects of normal life including employment, education, social relationships and leisure activity.
There are many different therapies that exist to help people best manage CFS. Two of these strategies which relate to activity and movement are activity pacing and graded exercise therapy. Activity pacing is a strategy to help limit the amount of physical and mental fatigue CFS sufferers may have at any period of time, by structuring activities which involve either physical or mental effort in between appropriate rest periods. Activity pacing may involve the use of diaries or logbooks to help record and plan appropriate intervals of activity and rest to help CFS sufferers gauge their capacity for different daily activities. By better understanding their overall capacity over the course of a day or week, CFS sufferers may be able to better manage their symptoms and prevent periods of severe fatigue or other issues by conserving or moderating their overall energy expenditure.
Graded exercise therapy involves using the effects of exercise training to help increase overall endurance, capacity and reduce the effects of fatigue over time. By beginning with a manageable level of exercise or activity, graded exercise therapy aims to slowly progress either the amount or intensity of exercise/activity an individual is able to complete and adapt to over time. Individuals will respond differently depending on their circumstances and for CFS sufferers this may be a slow process over the course of months and even years.
Activity pacing and graded exercise therapy can be intertwined by using pacing strategies to help identify a starting level of activity which can then be gradually increased as tolerated based on fatigue symptoms and overall recovery to help increase an individual's daily capacity for both mental and physical activities overtime. These strategies, among many others, aim to assist CFS sufferers in managing their day to day activities and overall quality of life as best as possible, reducing the burden of fatigue and associated symptoms.