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Exercise and Rest 

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Millions of people around the world follow exercise programmes in the belief that it is good for their health. They jog, walk, go to the gym, swim, cycle, play squash or golf to "keep fit". I don't want to-knock the benefits of exercise, it is undoubtedly good for us in moderation. But when you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, exercise is a mixed blessing. 

Many people in the early stages of chronic fatigue syndrome begin to exercise more, in the belief that their tiredness is caused by "getting unfit". Sadly, the exercise can push them over the edge into a state of collapse. At that point there is only one thing you can do - rest. At last, you have to listen to what your body has been trying to tell you. 

In my late teens and early 20s I was a competitive runner. I was proud of my fitness and my ability to push myself to a state of exhaustion on long runs. It's a great feeling to be fit. But if you ignore your body's cries for rest, something has to give eventually. Exercise enthusiasts tend to be highly-motivated individuals who push themselves hard in both work and play. That is good - up to a certain point. But life is a question of balance. 

Work must be balanced with rest and sleep. It's common sense. In the early stages of your recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome you must be careful not to over-exercise, nor over-exert yourself physically in any other way. The normal tasks of daily living will provide enough exercise. Gradually, you can build up to walking but never push yourself too hard. Forget the old adage of "no gain without pain". Instead think: "no pain means maximum gain".  

When it starts to hurt or you feel exhausted, back off. You're not training for the Olympics. You simply want good health. And when you do push yourself too hard, as you inevitably will, don't feel guilty about resting. Forget about exercise until you've fully recovered from your over-exertion. 

At the other end of the scale is rest. When you are suffering from severe chronic fatigue syndrome, bed rest is the only option. You don't have the strength to do anything else. But there is a danger in too much bed rest because you lose muscle condition, which is very difficult to regain. It's best not to stay in bed more than two or three days. As soon as possible, get up and try to do something around the house.

Try to go about your normal work but listen to your be and stop as soon as you feel the signs of over-exertion. Everyone's capacity is different. There are no hard and fast rules, you have to work it out for yourself. Life is a balance of exercise, rest and sleep. When we get any of those three out of balance, our health suffers.
 
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