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.