Can exercising too much give you chronic fatigue syndrome?

15 May 2012

Question

I've just finished a 17-mile run, and I'm pleasantly tired but I don't think I'm fatigued. But can continuous straining exercise cause chronic fatigue syndrome?

Answer

Esther - That's a great question. This illness is much more common in athletes and in fact, a teenager once told me that, she was training for the Olympics, 20% of Olympiads had had it. I don't actually know if that's true or not, but certainly, if you are doing an awful lot of exercise and not allowing yourself time to recover, I think you are at increased risk of developing it. My service for children is in Bath and we see a lot of athletes with this illness.

Chris - But kids don't get told to stop running around because they might get too tired.

Esther - No, of course, and they shouldn't be told to stop running around. We all know that children aren't doing enough exercise. But when a child gets a chronic fatigue syndrome, it's very, very difficult to treat when they're younger children because running around is so natural. So, on a good day, they'll do loads and loads of running and on a bad day, they can't get out of bed.

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