Benefits of Movement for CFS/ME (NHS TiP Course- Pt2)

Exercise has a very bad reputation in relation to CFS/ME, and I did discuss it in a previous post (link) but it was something that was covered in the first session of the advanced NHS course.

The physio who lead this particular part of the session, spilt out movement into two separate elements:
Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 16.00.46

Where function includes particular tasks, every day things really & exercise is movement with health at the focus.

So going for a 10 min walk would be exercise but shopping is likely to fall into function, even if that involved a 10 min walk as part of the task.

Basically a lot of movement can fall in the middle, for example running the hoover around can be classified in both.

Basics of movement

There are 4 main types/components to movement:
  1. Strength
  2. Suppleness
  3. Stamina
  4. Stability (balance/control)

CFS/ME has a sever impact on all 4 elements of movement.

At this point we were asked if we could improve one area which would it be?

Well for me it defiantly has to be stability, I get very unsteady on my feet, feeling very wobbly especially when I have over done it, but also when ever I have to lift my arms above my head, which is why I really struggle to wash my hair at times, let alone even attempt to dry or style it!

I think it is useful to look at both the different elements of movement (function v exercise) and the 4 types of movement, as it can help you focus on your specific priories.

Benefits of movement for CFS/ME

So together as a group we came up with a list of the pro’s of building movement into our daily routines and it is pretty extensive:

  • Help you get out more, potentially leading to an increase in social life.
  • Can help increase the stamina for work
  • Help reduce pain levels
  • Helps SLOWLY move towards recovery and continual recovery
  • Improves mood
  • Gives structure day
  • Help manage set backs
  • Stretching can help give control over body by strengthening muscles
  • Gives you something you can do even on worst day, help give achievement (this could be something as simple as sitting up in bed for a minute
  • Help balance
  • Improve sleep
  • Helps get mind on baseline, how much you are able to do
  • Help boom bust recovery- bounce back quicker

Not to mention increasing : Blood flow, metabolism, immune system & mood (endorphins).

So the list of pro’s (if done right) is pretty extensive, so if a new pill/tablet came onto the market that gave all the above benefits. Would you take it?

If a tablet did all that would you take it?

Well YES, yes I would take it, so we were then asked what stops us from adding movement into our daily routines?

What’s stopping us?

Well the side effects of doing so can be quite scary:

There was a general consensus of it being very hard to judge a starting point, with many (myself included) being nervous of what point to begin, in fear of causing a crash. To a few members finding it hard to pace themselves as they enjoy the exercise they are doing, which leads to them doing more than they are able leading to …dun dun dun a big fat crash!

With some of us having tried GET in the past/ present, where by it was good increase activity level initially but then lead to a crash which put them in a worse position than they began with, so it is really hard to know the benefit when GET is causing such push crash, some pushed through and ‘kept going’ hoping they would get better, when the opposite was the reality.

It was then pointed out to us that often we don’t take  into account our functionality physical tasks/movement when incorporating adding further movement into our lives.

For instance your plan could be to go on a 10 minute walk a day, which was in line with your baseline.

However on a day where you have had to go to the supermarket or pick up the kids etc, it might not be appropriate to then do your 10 minute walk in addition to functionality tasks you have done that day, is in doing those activities you are likely to have done your 10  minutes worth already.

 Exercise can feed into function ability. It is best to have mixture both where possible.

So we know movement can be helpful to CFS/ME suffers, but equally it can be very bad for us if done wrong or too much, so what is the happy middle? Well in my next post I will talk about how we can re-define movement for CFS/ME suffers, as well as diagrams for some stretches you can do (a lot of them from sited position) – Click for more info (Link coming soon)


To give the course justice I am breaking it down into various parts, so not only is it easier to read but also for me to write 🙂

Part 1- Recap and Pro’s of Self Management (Link)
Part 2- Benefits of Movement
Part 3- Redefining Exercise (Link- Coming Soon)
Parts 4+ (Links- Coming Soon)

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3 thoughts on “Benefits of Movement for CFS/ME (NHS TiP Course- Pt2)

  1. Hi, that was an interesting read. I don’t quite know what I have as I have been diagnosed with so many things. What I do know is that I am in chronic pain all the time. I am seeing a chiropractor at the moment and he has been telling me to to all the things you have spoken about but I find it really hard to pace myself and and I have just overdone it and am now feeling the consequences! Ouch! I look forward to reading your next blog. Kirsten

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