Chronic Pain and Fatigue – Exercising

An exercise haiku

Walking, Downward Facing Dog
Savasana… Relax!

At every doctors appointment I go to they consistently ask “what exercise have you done/are you doing?”  My usual answer is that I’m trying to do as much yoga and walking as I can but that doesn’t mean I’m doing something every day. In fact, when I was trying to do something every day I was getting worse and worse.

The doctors don’t normally like this answer and one in particular keeps telling me I should be walking 4 times a day; only short walks, but it should be every day. I saw 3 doctors this week and every single one of them thought I should be doing Graduated Exercise Therapy (GET). This is where you build up your ability to exercising ability over time by starting at 10% less than what you’re currently able to do and slowly (very slowly) increase this. BUT it means consistently exercise every day for a certain length of time no matter how you’re feeling.

Thank you very much doctors. You obviously haven’t read the recent research that show that GET can be detrimental to the health of someone suffering from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME, formerly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), which is what you have diagnosed me with.

Yes, I know there is controversy surrounding this research but I would rather not risk my health getting 100 x worse. So, I’m going to adapt what you have recommended me to do to be more of a pacing than a GET form of exercising because I really don’t want to become too de-conditioned but I’m not going to push myself too hard. I’m going to listen to my body and if I really don’t think I can manage something I’m not going to “push through it” and do it anyway.

What I am going to do is this:


I will aim for a minimum of 5 minutes of yoga each morning to stretch out my sore muscles. Whenever possible I will do a second 5 minutes in the afternoon. I will slowly build this up as I would like to get to the point of being able to do a class or video again. At this stage I’m making my own programs using my App (I’m not being paid to endorse this App but I really am enjoying using this App so I thought I’d write about it). This App has a lot of wonderful Yoga programs on it but it also allows you to design your own. I use the breathing programs already on the App but because I’m only up to 5 minutes of yoga at a time I can’t use any of their other programs (the shortest is 12 minutes) so I’ve designed my own morning and afternoon programs that are only 5 minutes each.


I have been doing 3 x 3 minute walks with at least 5 minutes rest between sessions and for the last week or so this hasn’t been happening every day because I’ve been in a fairly heavy crash where it was difficult to even stand up for long, let alone walking more than from the bedroom to the living room, bathroom and kitchen. So, to abide by my doctors wishes as best as I can and start off slowly, I will begin this by spacing out my 3 minute walks with an hour or so between them and do this 3 times a week. If this doesn’t cause me to crash again I will add an additional 3 minute walk to the 3 days a week, fitting with my doctors request for me to be walking 4 times a day. I will then slowly work up to adding additional days.

As we’re coming into summer here, I will ask E to set up my bike on his thingy (can’t think of the word) that makes the bike stationary so that I can do 3 minutes of cycling inside instead of going walking if the weather is extremely hot.


Although I have set a time frame of what I want to achieve in the descriptions above, I will modify this day to day depending on how I feel. If I feel I can’t do the yoga every day, or the walk on a particular day I was going to, I will not push myself too far. I will also take into consideration the other activities (not just exercise) that I have planned each day. If I have a busy day in terms of other high level activities I will prioritise and determine if I will exercise that day. This is what I believe separates Pacing from GET!

What do you do for exercise and how often do you do it?