Please note that the type of exercise I describe in this article was not GET, which can easily harm your health if you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). I always stayed within my safe exercise limits, which meant that I avoided triggering post-exertional malaise.
While exercising without triggering post-exertional malaise is a crucial element of managing ME/CFS well, exercising the wrong way can be harmful. Read this article for inspiration only and the free e-course lesson to learn how to find the level of exercise that’s appropriate and safe for your unique situation.
For many, post-exertional malaise is one of the most debilitating symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It surely was for me: when I was at my worst, even short walks exacerbated my symptoms for days to come.
When, shortly after starting to practice the amygdala retraining techniques and implementing essential lessons of overcoming Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, my brainfog, mood, and mental stamina improved, my ability to exercise still lagged behind.
It made sense to me: Sure, calming down my nervous system through the Amygdala Retraining Program could make me feel better, but how could it possibly help my body heal on a physical level?
The first Breakthrough
To make my exercise breakthrough possible in 2010, a great deal of coaxing from my love, Erin, was needed. I was hesitant to give exercise another try, as I had failed at it many times during the previous three years since I had gotten ill.
Finally, Erin got me to sign up for a gentle Yoga class with a teacher that I had met through my meditation group. Key to my willingness to give this group a try was that the teacher knew my limits and promised to help me not overdo it. I also took heart in that the class was labeled “gentle” yoga. Erin and I were the only people under sixty in that class, but, hey, I had to start somewhere.
And this time, exercising worked for me!
While I did my gentle yoga stretches and poses, I watched my pulse and energy levels carefully. After, to my surprise, I remained post-exertional malaise free after the first time, I gradually increased the intensity and length of my yoga poses. I always paid close attention to my body for the next few days after a class, and only increased the level of exercise if the previous class didn’t exacerbate my symptoms.
I vividly remember the first time after I had first gotten ill that I felt sweat on my body from having worked out. It felt scary, so I had to use the amygdala retraining techniques to not freak out about it—but at the same time it felt exhilarating.
Being able to exercise again confirmed that doing all of the mind-body techniques intended to bring my body into a healing state had actually worked. Using my mind to influence my physiology, I had helped my body recover some of its strength.
How I improved even further
I usually made further improvements in my ability to exercise when I was most consistent about my efforts. One of the best things that happened to my physical fitness was when I attended a 4-day a week English writing class at my local community college last year. The college campus is a 15-20 minute bike ride away, so attending the class gave me two workouts a day that were perfect in intensity and length.
Along the way, however, I experienced a few set-backs. For example when my knee started hurting soon after I began riding my bike on a daily basis again. Fortunately though, all I needed to do was to go to a doctor and get helped—which in and by itself was an exciting experience for someone whose health problems during the past few years were beyond most doctors’ healing powers.
With the help of an accountability buddy and the Online Self Care Hour, I’ve now been able to make exercise a daily habit. My daily exercise habit is paying off in heaps and bounds: going for a 30-minute brisk walk each morning gives me extra energy during the day and better sleep at night.
This is much along the lines of what Dr. Lucinda Bateman has observed in her patients, as she shared in yesterday’s CFIDS Association of America’s webinar: “Through exercising within their safe limits, patients can counteract the deconditioning of their bodies and generally experience a decrease in symptoms and improved sleep.” To discover what exercise level we can tolerate, Dr. Bateman suggests that we begin with very low levels of exercise, pause the day after the exercise to see if it triggered post-exertional malaise, and only repeat, or carefully increase, the exercise the day after the break day if it did not worsen our symptoms.
Over to you
What do you think—is it time to give exercise another try? Or maybe take the very first step by bringing your body into a healing state through amygdala retraining?
Take a moment to check in with yourself and find an answer to the above questions that feels right to you.
And then commit to taking that next step toward regaining your health!
If you do decide to give exercise and/or amygdala retraining a try, you may find that my free e-course lesson How to Benefit from Exercise Even Though You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the money-back guarantee Amygdala Retraining Program are just what you need right now. Have a look!