Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by severe fatigue, which can be exacerbated by physical exertion. Graded exercise therapy (GET) is a treatment approach that has been shown to improve physical function and reduce fatigue in people with CFS. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of GET, the principles behind it, and how it can be incorporated into a treatment plan.
What is Graded Exercise Therapy (GET)?
GET is a structured, individualized program that involves gradually increasing physical activity over time. The goal is to improve physical function without exacerbating symptoms of fatigue. The program is typically overseen by a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist, who works closely with the patient to create a tailored program that takes into account their individual needs and abilities.
Principles of Graded Exercise Therapy:
The principles of GET are based on the idea that gradual, controlled physical activity can help to improve physical function and reduce fatigue. The program typically involves four main components:
- Goal setting: The patient and healthcare professional work together to set realistic goals for the program, taking into account the patient’s current level of physical activity and any limitations they may have.
- Starting low and going slow: The program begins with very low levels of physical activity, such as short walks or gentle stretching exercises. The intensity and duration of the exercise are gradually increased over time, in a controlled and supervised manner.
- Monitoring symptoms: Throughout the program, the patient is encouraged to monitor their symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, and breathlessness. If symptoms worsen, the program is adjusted accordingly.
- Gradual progression: The program is designed to be progressive, with the patient gradually increasing their physical activity over time. The pace of progression is individualized and based on the patient’s response to the exercise.
Benefits of Graded Exercise Therapy:
Several studies have shown that GET can be an effective treatment for CFS, with benefits including:
- Improved physical function: GET has been shown to improve physical function, such as walking ability and aerobic capacity, in people with CFS.
- Reduced fatigue: GET can help to reduce symptoms of fatigue and improve overall energy levels.
- Improved quality of life: By improving physical function and reducing fatigue, GET can have a positive impact on a person’s overall quality of life.
Incorporating Graded Exercise Therapy into a Treatment Plan: If you are considering GET as part of your treatment plan, it is important to work closely with a healthcare professional who is experienced in treating CFS. They will be able to assess your individual needs and abilities, and create a program that is tailored to your specific requirements. It is also important to approach GET with an open mind and a willingness to try new things, as the program may involve stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Graded exercise therapy is a structured, individualized program that can be an effective treatment for people with chronic fatigue syndrome. By gradually increasing physical activity over time, GET can help to improve physical function, reduce fatigue, and improve overall quality of life. If you are considering GET as part of your treatment plan, be sure to work closely with a healthcare professional who is experienced in treating CFS, and approach the program with an open mind and a willingness to try new things.