Increased daily physical activity and fatigue symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome
Black, Christopher D
O'Connor, Patrick J
McCully, Kevin K
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Abstract Individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have been shown to have reduced activity levels associated with heightened feelings of fatigue. Previous research has demonstrated that exercise training has beneficial effects on fatigue-related symptoms in individuals with CFS. Purpose The aim of this study was to sustain an increase in daily physical activity in CFS patients for 4 weeks and assess the effects on fatigue, muscle pain and overall mood. Methods Six CFS and seven sedentary controls were studied. Daily activity was assessed by a CSA accelerometer. Following a two week baseline period, CFS subjects were asked to increase their daily physical activity by 30% over baseline by walking a prescribed amount each day for a period of four weeks. Fatigue, muscle pain and overall mood were reported daily using a 0 to 100 visual analog scale and weekly using the Profile of Mood States (Bipolar) questionnaire. Results CFS patients had significantly lower daily activity counts than controls (162.5 ± 51.7 × 103 counts/day vs. 267.2 ± 79.5 × 103 counts/day) during a 2-week baseline period. At baseline, the CFS patients reported significantly (P < 0.01) higher fatigue and muscle pain intensity compared to controls but the groups did not differ in overall mood. CFS subjects increased their daily activity by 28 ± 19.7% over a 4 week period. Overall mood and muscle pain worsened in the CFS patients with increased activity. Conclusion CFS patients were able to increase their daily physical activity for a period of four weeks. In contrast to previous studies fatigue, muscle pain, and overall mood did not improve with increased activity. Increased activity was not presented as a treatment which may account for the differential findings between this and previous studies. The results suggest that a daily "activity limit" may exist in this population. Future studies on the impact of physical activity on the symptoms of CFS patients are needed.