I’ve just caught up on the conflict between those with chronic fatigue/ME and researchers at Oxford University. Research found graded exercise therapy (GET) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) had a ‘marked effect’on symptoms like joint aches, extreme tiredness and memory lapses for those suffering from either conditions.
However the ME Association strongly opposes the use of GET because its own research suggested exercise can exacerbate the symptoms. The to exercise or not to exercise question is never clear cut – in this case it seems to make people feel better but it can exacerbate the symptoms.
I’ve had mixed responses when I’ve written about exercising with myasthenia and, too be honest, I have mixed feelings about it. I know feeling stronger makes me feel better, and I like to think the stronger I get the more I protect myself from MG-related muscle weakness. But sometimes I over do it and suffer from fatigue for a couple of days after. I also wonder about whether I’m really making myself stronger in the long run.
This video, by a physical therapist in America, asks the valid question ‘why should I even consider exercise if my symptoms are going to improve with rest?’ and her answer is yes because extended rest can make muscle weakness much worse.
After watching the above, I found this guidance which suggests that, although different sources provide different answers, the general answer is — ‘exercise is helpful for people with MG, but patients should not embark on exercise programs that require maximum output and produce weakness’.
It also adds that it ‘should be done in a way that stops short of muscle fatigue, and this point will vary from person to person depending on age, overall fitness level, MG symptoms and other factors.’
Points to remember the next time I’m pushing myself too hard at the gym.