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Exercises That Help Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue can really be a debilitating state in a person’s life that makes the person difficult to perform the daily activities, as the affected one feels completely exhausted. Though it might sound very difficult or in fact quite strange for you to exercise with chronic fatigue or the chronic fatigue syndrome, you can really be benefited by performing certain exercises and can manage the symptoms in chronic fatigue.

In this article we will talk about some of the exercises that help chronic fatigue.

What Is Chronic Fatigue?

Chronic fatigue or the chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as CFS is a condition that is characterized by persistent unexplained fatigue. It is a serious healthcare issue with a prevalence of about 3%. (1)

Some other symptoms of chronic fatigue are flu-like symptoms, like sore throat, body aches, headaches, and also enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits or in the neck. Though the exact cause of chronic fatigue is still not clear, it usually appears after extreme stress or after an infection.

It is highly challenging to diagnose the condition of CFS. As per the Institute Of Medicine, as of the year 2015, chronic fatigue syndrome occurs in about 836, 000 to about 2.5 million of Americans. It is however, estimated that 84% to 91% are still to be diagnosed.(2)

Exercises That Help Chronic Fatigue

There is really encouraging evidence that some patients with chronic fatigue may benefit from exercise therapy, but there is no evidence that exercise therapy might worsen the outcomes on an average.(3)

Aerobic Activity:

Exercise enhances endorphins, which makes one feel quite energized, and also increases the levels of oxygen in the blood. Aerobic exercises are the best exercises to remove fatigue, as they are most effective at increasing the levels of oxygen in your blood, and enhancing the energy levels of the body.

Based on some available evidence, exercise therapy for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome should be aerobic and it must comprise of 10-11 sessions spread over a period of about 4 to 5 months. (4)

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

Stretching and strengthening exercises are very much essential for patients with CFS. Below are some of these exercises.

Hamstring Stretch: This can be done either by lying on the bed or without it. We will talk about both the ways.

Hamstring Stretch 1: Lie on the back and lift up any one of your leg, while keeping the other leg on the bed. Pull the leg back as much as possible by using your hands as required hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.

Hamstring Stretch 2: Hold on any stable surface. Lower the torso, until it remains parallel to the floor. Keep your knees absolutely straight and the back straight. This gives you a stretch at your hamstrings.

Counter Push-Up: For doing counter push-up keep your hands on the edge of the counter and feet behind the body. Now, lower the body to the counter as far as you can, and then come back to the starting position. This exercise will work on the triceps, core and your chest. It also stretches the chest.

Leg Curls And Leg Presses: Leg Curls can be done by lying on the stomach with legs extended. Bring your feet towards the buttocks by bending the knees, and hold this position for about 15-30 seconds. Then return back to the starting position. This would stretch the quadriceps and also work on your hamstrings.

For performing the leg presses, you need to lie on the back and then lift up the legs; in a way that they remain perpendicular to the body. Bring the knees towards the underarms and hold this position for 30 seconds and then return to starting position. This exercise would stretch your glutes and the lower back and also work on your glutes and quadriceps.

Calf Raises: Calf raises can be done either by lying on the bed or by standing. We will talk about both the ways.

Calf Raises 1: Lie on the back and lift up both your legs, absolutely perpendicular to the body. While keeping the knees straight, pull the toes back and hold this for about 15-30 seconds and then push the toes up. This would stretch and also work on your calves.

Calf Raise 2: Stand on a stair holding the rail for support. Drop the heels below the toes and hold it for about 15 or 30 seconds and then come up again on your toes. Doing this would stretch and work on calves.

Reverse Fly: You need to stand tall in athletic position and keep your arms crossed in front of the body. Now, pull the arms back as far as possible by you. This works on the upper back.

Row: For doing this, you need to stand absolutely tall in an athletic position by keeping your arms right in front of the body. Pull your arms back as far as possible, by bending your elbows. This works on your upper back and your biceps.

Squat And Lunges:

Counter Squat: Hold to a stable surface and place both your feet at shoulder-width distance from each other. Now squat down as much as possible for you in a comfortable manner; preferably until the thighs remain parallel to the ground. This exercise works on your glutes and quads.

Lunges: For doing the lunges, hold on to a wall for support. Place both the feet in a staggered position, or one foot behind another foot, and do the lunge. When the front thigh is absolutely parallel to the ground, return to the starting position and switch the legs. This exercise also works on your quads and glutes and it also stretches the hip flexors.

Low Impact Exercises:

Low impact exercises such as yoga poses, walking or even biking can be of great benefit for patients with chronic fatigue.

Walk: Walking aids you in clearing your mind and also increasing the blood flow to all the body parts. So, if you are finding yourself depressed or if you are in pain of fatigue, go for a short walk and see the wonders.

Cobra Pose: This yoga pose can help with chronic fatigue. To perform this, you need to lie on the stomach and then try and prop yourself up on the forearms. You need to hold this position for 30-60 seconds. This yoga pose stretches your lower back.

Things To Remember:

There are some points that you need to remember while exercising with chronic fatigue. Below are some of them.

Talk To Your Doctor:

It is always important for you to talk to your doctor or physical therapist before beginning any exercise routine.

Don’t Push Too Hard Or Too Fast:

It is also necessary for you to keep in mind, not to overdo. Exercise only in the way, only for the time you are comfortable with. Do not go too hard or too fast. Push yourself to begin exercising, but do not push to do more than you can, if you have CFS. Take breaks, take days off when you feel like it is needed, but never give up on your exercise.

Increase Exercise Gradually:

It must be a slow process to get into any workout, especially if you have CFS. It is true that usually patients with CFS feel like there is no energy in them left to workout. However, if you suffer from chronic fatigue, try to begin with some little amount of regular exercise and gradually increase the exercise duration and intensity. It is always better to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine.

Generally patients with chronic fatigue syndrome can do home exercises 5 times in a week with an initial duration of 5-15 minutes per every exercise session. This exercising duration can be increased gradually up to 30 minutes. (5)


So, we talked about some of the exercises that help chronic fatigue. If you are one of those suffering from this CFS condition, do talk to your doctor and start with a little amount of exercise on a daily basis. Your doctor or physical therapist will help you with the exercise routine and will let you know the best exercises for your condition. So, keep moving and keeping improving your energy level to lead a better quality of life, even with chronic fatigue condition.

Reference Links:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15266475
  2. http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2015/MECFS/MECFS_KeyFacts.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15266475
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK115890/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK115890/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 17, 2019

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