Impact of a maximal exercise test on symptoms and activity in chronic fatigue syndrome

J Psychosom Res. 2005 Oct;59(4):201-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2005.04.003.


Objective: This study examined the effects of exercise on symptoms and activity in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Methods: Twenty CFS patients and 20 neighborhood controls performed an incremental exercise test until exhaustion. Fatigue, muscle pain, minutes spent resting, and the level of physical activity were assessed with a self-observation list. Physical activity was assessed with an actometer as well. Data were obtained 3 days before the maximal exercise test (MET) up to 5 days thereafter.

Results: For CFS patients, daily observed fatigue was increased up to 2 days after the exercise test. For controls, self-observed fatigue returned to baseline after 2 h. Both CFS patients and controls spent more minutes resting on the day before and on the day after the MET. For CFS patients, self-observed minutes resting increased on the day of the exercise test. For neither group, a decrease of actometer recorded or self-observed physical activity after exercise was found.

Conclusion: Fatigue in CFS patients increased after exercise, but the level of actual physical activity remained unchanged.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors