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Pacing and Exercise
Bianca Veness

Note: Bianca Veness, a CFS patient from Australia, is a moderator in the CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-Help program.

For many years, I didn't exercise regularly because I couldn't figure out how to exercise in a way that didn't make my symptoms worse. Then I realized that it might be possible to exercise successfully if I applied the idea of pacing in this part of my life, just as I had elsewhere.


Thinking about exercise in terms of staying within my limits, I changed my goal from trying to get fit (very hard to do with CFS) to relieving some of my symptoms. 

I began doing light stretches several times a day. I chose to do significantly less than I was able, so that I wasn't fatigued at all by the activity. I started with a level I could do even on my worst day, which was five minutes.

This approach worked. I now stretch gently for three or four minutes at a time, three or four times a day. This amount of stretching has greatly reduced my neck and shoulder pain, and the number of migraines I get. Stretching is the most helpful strategy I have found for treating my pain.

I am trying to extend my stretching slowly and add some strengthening exercises too, at the rate of about a minute a week. I only increase the time if I'm finding the stretches easy, otherwise I maintain the same time. 

Because the stretches have been so helpful, because they don't fatigue me and because I enjoy them, I've been able to maintain my exercise program with no problems so far.