Tired? Experts Suggest Going For a Long Run
Thursday, August 10th 2006
Stella Law was once unable to walk upstairs. Now she goes running one day and swimming the next. John Illman reports.
LONDON - A 3km run may be the answer to ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
This controversial treatment goes against much expert advice, but Stella Law is proof that the programme, devised by doctors at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, really works.
She had ME for 10 years and at one time was unable to walk up the stairs after work - she had to crawl. But after starting a graded exercise programme she now runs 3km and swims 30 lengths on alternate days. "I now feel in charge," she says.
The programme has "totally transformed" her life. Mrs Law, a 47-year-old freelance consultant in health and social services, lived with a buzzing in her head, woke up feeling tired and could not articulate or remember words.
She was one of 66 patients in a research project to find out if exercise would make them fitter, stronger and less tired.
It did so - but critics claim it is unrepresentative and excluded severely affected patients. ME charities fear it will reinforce the old idea that the ailment "is all in the mind."
The study was carried out by Dr Peter White, senior lecturer in psychiatry at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Medical School, and Kathy Fulcher, then laboratory director at the National Sports Medicine Institute.
Dr White said the study showed exercise could give control back to sufferers: "This is a very powerful healing force, especially for those who have been passive victims of the illness, and advised to rest as the only cure."
He and Kathy Fulcher recognised the need to grade exercise according to fitness.
Some patients feared even gentle exercise would be damaging, but they were given pulse-rate monitors.
"This helped them gain the confidence they wouldn't overdo it," said Dr White. "The message was that neither we nor the illness were in control - they were."
He accepts the treatment will not help everyone. The study excluded those with psychiatric disorders, such as depression, or "appreciable" sleep problems.
"Critics say the patients were unrepresentative without producing any evidence to prove it. These were not special patients. We screened 167 patients for the study and treated 66. Of the 47 who stayed the course, three-quarters rated themselves better after a year."
The results suggest a quarter of Britain's estimated 250,000 sufferers would benefit from graded exercise.
Dr White said: "We lose 10 percent of muscle power by staying in bed for a week. By three weeks, fitness or aerobic capacity falls by more than a quarter."
Dr Charles Shepherd, of the ME Association, said: "It's a common myth that we advise people to go to bed and stay there. Our concern is that some doctors will misinterpret the meaning of graded exercise and force patients into an inappropriate, harsh regime."
Source, New Zealand Herald 2006
Footnote from Ideal Health
The following products are all useful for fatigue:
FibroMalic (Malic Acid Complex)
Ginseng 5 Exhaustion Relief
Guarana Ginseng 4000
Ginseng, Korean (Panax)
Super Multi Plus
CoQ10 300mg + Vitamin D3
Whey Protein - Vanilla
Related health information can be found here:
Need a performance boost? Try Carnitine to improve fat burning and reduce muscle fatigue
Neuromuscular system and nutritional support
Protein - a macronutrient so often overlooked
Tired and Lacking Energy?
Water, the elixir of life
Related articles can be found here:
Detox Your Body - Improve Your Energy
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Get Moving Gym-Free!
Moderate Exercise Can Cut Risk of Breast Cancer
Olive Leaf Extract - Super Immune System Booster
Winning the Battle With Candida & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.
Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.
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