Fighting fatigue with fitness?

Fighting fatigue with fitness?

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Some of my rheumo buddies attended the American College of Rheumatology meet last week in San Diego. Here is a great collection of some of the information presented, otherwise you may have seen some of Irwin's tweets and Facebook posts. He will be sharing more of his learnings in the weeks that come.

One of the presentations shared by Irwin that really caught my interest raised the topic of fatigue.

Fatigue is common in rheumatic diseases and can often be as debilitating as pain. Despite it being so prevalent, fatigue is still poorly understood and (in general) poorly managed by us clinicians. Click here for some more comments on this by Irwin.

The more time I spend listening to my clients, the more I realise how much of an impact fatigue can have on someone’s physical and mental health. 

The list below was a good reminder of how complex an issue fatigue can be. See just some of the known potential contributors to someones fatigue.

  • Psychological/psychiatric
  • Sleep/chronobiology issues
  • Inflammation
  • Neurotransmitter imbalance
  • Diet
  • Endocrine
  • Anemia
  • Medications/drugs
  • Cardiovascular
  • Muscular
  • Fitness (too little or too much exercise)
  • Obesity

What a list huh?!?!

Although not an excuse, you can see why fatigue can be a tough beast to tame. There are many contributing factors, all which may have an impact on each other in those with complex and chronic conditions.

Interestingly, the result of the presentation attended by Irwin confirmed that exercise is one of the most effective, or most effective, treatments of fatigue. It can seem like a counter-intuitive response, but the research recently reviewed outlined that across medical conditions, activity/exercise is likely the most effective treatment for fatigue, other than treating the underlying disease itself.

More motivation for us to keep trying to work with our clients to improve their function. More motivation to listen and address fatigue in any small way that we can. More motivation to keep spreading the motion is lotion message! In some future posts I look forward to sharing more about how us Exercise Physiologist work with those who suffer from fatigue.

 What do you think? Has a gradual exercise program helped you with fatigue? What else have you found useful?


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