Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Alleviated by Exercise and Therapy: Study

February 21, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Graded exercise therapy (GET) and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) could moderately improve outcomes for chronic fatigue syndrome, according to a new British study. (Photos.com)
Graded exercise therapy (GET) and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) could moderately improve outcomes for chronic fatigue syndrome, according to a new British study. (Photos.com)
Two types of therapies were found to alleviate chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) symptoms and help patients with CFS cope with their conditions, a recent British study has found.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET), combined with specialized medical care, could “moderately improve outcomes for chronic fatigue syndrome,” which is characterized by excessive and debilitating fatigue and aches, according to the study, which was published online in the medical journal The Lancet on Feb. 18.

Cognitive behavior therapy attempts to alter the way patients think about their fatigue, while graded exercise therapy attempts to intensify physical activity step-by-step to help combat their chronic fatigue, MedicineNet reported.

"Patients who received either graded exercise therapy or cognitive behavior therapy reported less fatigue and better function than those who received either adaptive pacing therapy or specialist medical care alone,” study author Peter D. White, professor of psychological medicine at Barts and the London School of Medicine, said, according to HealthDay.

The researchers looked at 641 chronic fatigue syndrome patients split into four different trials: CBT, GET, adaptive pacing therapy (APT), and specialist medical care (SMC) alone. They found that the first two therapies yielded better results for easing chronic fatigue compared to SMC and APT patients.

The benefits of cognitive behavior therapy and graded exercise therapy outweighed any potential risks, said Gijs Bleijenberg and Hans Knoop of the Expert Centre for Chronic Fatigue of Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands, in an accompanying commentary.

“Few patients receiving cognitive behavior therapy or graded exercise therapy in the … trial had serious adverse reactions, and no more than those receiving adaptive pacing therapy or standard medical care," Bleijenberg and Knoop wrote in a Lancet editorial, according to MedicineNet.

"This finding is important and should be communicated to patients to dispel unnecessary concerns about the possible detrimental effects of cognitive behavior therapy and graded exercise therapy, which will hopefully be a useful reminder of the potential positive effects of both interventions."

According to the US National Institutes of Health and National Library of Medicine, there is currently no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, and doctors and scientists are unsure of the exact cause.