Effects of a short-term aquatic exercise intervention on symptoms and exercise capacity in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a pilot study
Broadbent, S, Coetzee, S & Beavers, R 2018, 'Effects of a short-term aquatic exercise intervention on symptoms and exercise capacity in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a pilot study', European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 118, no. 9, pp. 1801-1810.
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PURPOSE: This pilot pre-and post-intervention study investigated the effects of a short-term aquatic exercise programme on physiological outcomes, symptoms and exercise capacity in women with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME).
METHODS: Eleven women (54.8 ± 12.4 year) volunteered for the 5-week program; an initial 20-min aquatic exercise session then two self-paced 20-min sessions per week for 4 weeks. Pre- and post-intervention outcomes were physiological measures, 6 min Walk Test (6MWT), perceived exertion (RPE), hand grip strength, Sit-to-Stand, Sit-Reach test, Apley's shoulder test, FACIT questionnaire, and 24-h post-test tiredness and pain scores (0-10 visual analogue scale). Heart rates, RPE, 24- and 48-h post-session tiredness/pain scores were recorded each session.
RESULTS: 6MWT distance increased by 60.8 m (p = 0.006), left hand grip strength by 6 kg (p = 0.038), Sit-Reach test by 4.0 cm (p = 0.017), right shoulder flexibility by 2.9 cm (p = 0.026), FACIT scores by 8.2 (p = 0.041); 24-h post-test tiredness and pain decreased by 1.5 and 1.6, respectively (p = 0.002). There were significant post-intervention increases in exercising heart rates (6MWT 4- and 6-min time points), oxygen saturation at 2-min, and reduced RPE at 4-min. Weekly resting and exercising heart rates increased significantly during the study but RPE decreased; immediately post- and 24-h post-session tiredness decreased significantly. There were no reports of symptom exacerbation.
CONCLUSIONS: Five weeks of low-moderate intensity aquatic exercise significantly improved exercise capacity, RPE and fatigue. This exercise mode exercise may potentially be a manageable and safe physical activity for CFS/ME patients.