Although it’s believed that exercise is good to help overcome chronic fatigue, and that is true, but there is a big problem with that. Both diet and exercise are issues in the solution to this problem but the newly discovered issue of persistent organic pollutants is actually the main problem.
Chronic fatigue arises from multiple sources. Physical inactivity can lead to fatigue. The problem, of course, is that when you begin to exercise, this may exhaust you even more because your exercise tolerance levels are so low.
The statement, “Get more exercise,” is too non-specific for people suffering from chronic fatigue. A step-by-step exercise program is what you need.
A combination program of resistance exercise and aerobic exercise is the best way to go. All exercise programs have three major parts:
* duration: how long
* frequency: how often
* intensity: how hard or how much effort do you expend
Resistance and Effort Evaluation
Since monitoring is so important to success, we must have a simple, yet effective method for rating effort. This allows you to determine the proper resistance to use when beginning the training program, and also to know at what point you need to increase the resistance for continued progress.
True for both aerobic exercise and resistance training, this provides a framework for an exercise prescription.
In the early 1960’s, Dr. Gunnar Borg from the University of Stockholm in Sweden, developed the idea of a scale for rating the trainee’s sense of how hard an exercise was to perform. He called this the “perceived exertion scale.”
He designed the scale so that scientists, practitioners of the health sciences, and individuals could simply, yet accurately, and without the aid of sophisticated equipment check how hard an exercise was so that the proper level of effort for each person could be determined.
Perceived exertion is a description (or rating) of your effort during exercise. It’s a measure of how hard you think the exercise is for you. Your brain can tell how hard you are breathing or how hard you are straining to lift a weight and it processes those feelings of effort that you have during your exercise.
When you say that an exercise is hard, then you are verbally stating your perception of the effort you made.
The good thing about this is that we can use a scale to measure exactly how hard you think the exercise is for you. This scale is then used to pick the correct resistance or weight to use to get good results.
Perceived Exertion Rating Scale
The scale has numbers from 0 – 10, with 0 being the “no effort” level and 10 representing the “very, very hard” level. Most of the numbers have word labels that are
easy to understand. The layout of the scale is as follows.
0 No effort at all
1 Very, very light (just noticeable)
2 Very light
5 Somewhat hard
6 Hard (heavy)
8 Very hard
10 Very, very hard (almost maximal)
When using the scale, you can rate effort by decimals, that is, 3.5 or 5.5. As you can see, 10 is listed as
almost maximal. Therefore, you can rate a 10.5 or 11 if the effort you just made was the hardest you’ve ever done.
Using the Rating Scale to Monitor Your Programs
How do you use the scale? Let’s use aerobic exercise as an example. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that aerobic training be done at 65-90% of the maximum heart rate.
This heart rate has been shown to be highly related to the 3 (moderate) to 6 (hard) level on the scale.
So, scale ratings of 3-6 can estimate training ranges for proper exercise based on scientific guidelines.
Dr. R. J. Shephard and others have shown that the scale is effective for both men and women.
Dr. Borg’s research showed that the scale is also capable of accurately rating anaerobic (resistance)
exercise. In an article published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 1983, Dr. Bruce Noble confirmed this.
Verbal Instructions in Use of Scale
Dr. William Morgan has provided verbal instructions for understanding the scale based on aerobic exercise: When you do aerobic exercise, try to estimate how hard you feel the work is; that is, rate the degree of perceived exertion you feel.
Think of perceived exertion as the total amount of exertion and physical fatigue, combining all sensations and feelings of physical stress, effort, and fatigue. Try to concentrate on your total, inner feeling of exertion.
Estimate as honestly and objectively as possible. Sometimes an exercise will be hard for the whole body.
You’ll feel worn out all over; this is usually the case with an activity such as running.
With resistance training, an individual muscle may get very tired before the whole body does. This also happens in biking, especially to people who are not yet in shape with the thigh muscles becoming worn out before the whole body gets tired.
When this happens, rate how hard that exercise is for that muscle group. For example, with resistance exercises for the arm muscles, the arms usually get tired or can’t do any more work well before your breathing rate or heart rate increases to higher levels. Your whole body doesn’t feel tired but your arms may hurt a lot. Just rate how hard the exercise is for your arms and don’t worry about your whole body.
Using the scale is the best way to deal with your chronic fatigue. This way you can grade how you’re doing so you don’t overdo while you recondition.