Objective: The Energy Envelope Theory of myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome postulates that individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome may experience some increase in functioning if their level of exertion consistently remains within the limits of their available energy. Findings of several studies support this theory; however, the current study is the first to explore how an individual's initial level of available energy may influence the relation between energy envelope maintenance and level of functioning.
Method: The functioning, activity, and symptomatology of six groups of individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome were compared. Groups were created based upon level of available energy (higher or lower) and energy envelope adherence (underextended, within, overextended).
Results: Results indicate that, as expected, individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome who had higher available energy also had better functioning than individuals with lower available energy; however, this relation was less pronounced for individuals who were overexerting themselves.
Discussion: These results are consistent with the Energy Envelope Theory, and they suggest that overexertion was particularly impactful for individuals with higher levels of available energy.
Keywords: Myalgic encephalomyelitis; chronic fatigue syndrome; energy; energy envelope; pacing.