Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Exercise Effective in War on Fatigue

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Exercise Effective in War on Fatigue

Article excerpt

TWO YEARS ago, Sue Van Matre was struck with incapacitating fatigue. Her life - and outlook - changed overnight. She recalls the shock of "sitting up one day and thinking, `You may never be active again.' "

Van Matre is battling chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating disorder characterized by profound tiredness. The cause of CFS isn't known, and no specific diagnostic tests are available. Very little has been identified about the clinical course of the disorder. Some patients recover; others get progressively worse.

"There are muscle aches and chronic sore throat that go with the syndrome," said Van Matre. "I'd been a smoker all my life. I quit, but nothing got better, not even the sore throat. That was one of the first clues I had that something was wrong."

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of diagnosed cases of CFS in the United States occur in women. The ages of most patients are 25 to 45. The disorder can be treated by medicine, which is intended to provide symptomatic relief but not a cure.

Although patients with CFS can become exhausted with only light physical activity, research has found that a lack of exercise can lead to a worsening of a patient's condition.

The redemptive feature of Van Matre's life at the moment is an exercise program she has pursued since October with the help of Alvin Glazier, a personal trainer. She estimates that her activity has increased "by 300 percent." Her doctors have taken her off medication. Exercise has given back to her at least a portion of her life. She's enthralled.

"Alvin has provided structure that has allowed me to grow," she said. "It's definitely working. (The progress) is slower than I want it to be, and he cautions me constantly about that. But I wasn't doing it on my own. It wasn't going to happen without help.

"I can go up to 40 minutes on a treadmill, though not every day. I bought a mountain bike, and it's set up on a wind trainer. …

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