International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day Is On May 12, 2018
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High intensity interval training appears to be working for me

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by friendlycat, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. friendlycat

    friendlycat

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    OK, so first off I will caveat this by appreciating that it sounds like utter madness considering the classic nature of ME/CFS, PEM and all that, and I would also point out that I'd consider myself mild to moderate having never been truly incapacitated over the two years I've been down with this after suffering a bout of gastroenteritis.

    With that out of the way then, my experience might be of interest to some on the forum.

    I've never approached my illness in a sciencey way what with protocols and complex technical assessments although I am firmly an advocate of evidence based medicine.

    What I have tried are the usual things like taking B12 supplements, probiotics, CBD oil, rohdoila (yeah, probably quackery but my mum sent it), high protein/low carb dieting and a few other things but generally to little benefit although occasionally some seemed to help for while.

    After a long period of grimness I was getting a bit desperate and decided that I would try the 15 mins a week HIIT method (as seen on Michael Mosely's BBC show). I suspected it may well do me in but since I've got no work on at the minute I figured I didn't have much to lose so thought what the melon-farming hell.

    The training involves doing 1 minute of any flat out exercise that will get your heart pumping, then repeated 4 more times with a 1min rest period between each exercise.
    Now, you're probably thinking, oh friendlycat, this is just crazy talk but hear me out.

    Due to weak, wobbly legs, the best I could manage on the first attempt was kind of kung fu punching and which floored me for the rest of the day, plus I only did a total of three minutes.

    The next day, however, I really didn't feel too bad and the following day, I did it again for 3 minutes total which did leave me knackered but I recovered after a while the same day.

    So, it's now been three weeks and I feel pretty much back to normal, i.e. things like going up and down stairs doesn't seem like a big effort, and am doing the full 5 mins during each session which I perform every other day.

    I'm now doing running on the spot and squats along with the punchy thing.

    At the moment, I'm really pleased I tried this although I'm aware that it may well be a chimera and the ME will find a way to stymie my progress, but, I've had three weeks of feeling pretty damn good all things considered and for now, I'll take what I can get.
     
  2. Wishful

    Wishful Senior Member

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    Maybe it's triggering a useful response, the way stimulating nerves (by sticking a needle into them) can make you feel better by triggering endorphins. Please let us know if the benefits continue, or if stops working or causes some unpleasant effects.
     
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  3. TenuousGrip

    TenuousGrip Senior Member

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    WOO-HOO !!!

    May your gains continue unabated :)
     
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  4. Diwi9

    Diwi9 Senior Member

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    @friendlycat - Wow...that's a pretty fantastic turn around for you, especially with HIIT. I have been able to improve some of my physical capacity, but have found that it has only followed from my ME/CFS improving...not the other way around. I do some hand weights laying down and sitting. I can walk a bit too, but if I do too much, it results total body soreness in muscles and joints. I've not given up on exercise, I'm just very careful about it. My doctor has made the point that when gains are made, crashing actually leads to recovery backsliding.
     
  5. friendlycat

    friendlycat

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    Yeah, it seems rather counterintuitive but it sort of feels like the brevity and intensity kicked my body into gear somehow.
    Of course, correlation doesn't necessarily equal causation and it could be a remission such as I've had in the past and it's simply coincidence or, less likely but possibly, that I'm no longer afflicted by ME/CFS and I was just in a different but similarly lethargic state due to lack of activity and the HIIT has pushed me back into a reasonable level of functionality as it does have an apparently well evidenced and significant effect on one's metabolism.

    I've not really suffered from much pain over the two years apart from minor aches in my limbs and the occasional nasty headache so I've always been mobile - mainly it was just the continual fatigue and PEM incidents that were the hallmarks for me.
     
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  6. Diwi9

    Diwi9 Senior Member

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    @friendlycat - I experienced a quasi-remission after my first two years. I was in pretty good health for five, but did not have the benefit of a ME/CFS diagnosis and I eventually relapsed. You are fortunate to have a diagnosis and understand the risks so that you can take good care of yourself even when you are doing better. Getting a second chance is phenomenal. My best wishes to you...keep us posted.
     
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  7. Murph

    Murph :)

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    This is great. I am open to the idea of interval training being effective.

    I find I can do a lot more when I intersperse with rests. For example, I can do some weight training stuff if I take 5 mins off between episodes of exertion that go for say 30 seconds. But if I try to go hard for multiple minutes I get terrible PEM.

    My theory is something is being used up (or built up) in the body that it can renew (or clear out) if only it is given a rest. But if I don't rest often that thing - whatever it is - gets low (or high) enough that it triggers a whole body shut down.

    I'm very mild these days but I suspect this applies to almost all of us and might be why we all appreciate pacing, no matter what level we are at.

    At any rate, my advice would be to identify your limits and sit well inside them, because they do vary over time! (I know that's impossible advice to follow, because I always tell myself to do that and inevitably blow everything up!)
     
  8. *GG*

    *GG* senior member

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    I have done similar things at the gym. I learned about via Dr Mercola though. I think I would peddle hard on ab ike for 1.5 to 2 mins, slow down for another 2 mins, or until my hear rate seemed to stabilize. For the 1st 5 mins I would take it slow, the warmup, do the biking for about 20 mins, then just took it easy the last 5 mins. Ending around 30 mins of exercise.

    My symptoms do increase in the aftermath, but I have exercise most of my adulthood :)

    GG
     
  9. friendlycat

    friendlycat

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    OK, so last night I got an onset of the typical symptoms and have been fearing the worst.
    By the looks of it though, it appears that I may well have caught a cold; I've now got a bunged up nose and bit of a sore throat which is not something I usually experience with the ME/CFS.
    I'm hoping for the best which is an odd thing to say as I wouldn't usually welcome a common or garden cold but we'll see how it pans out.
    I still did my HIIT this morning in any case.
     
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  10. friendlycat

    friendlycat

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    Well, the HIIT I do is very brief indeed and you can do it easily in your house which is why I find it manageable. It has to be said though that it's unpleasant to push yourself to the limit even for a minute, but, hey, it's a grand total of fifteen mins a week!

    The science suggests that the intense exercise rapidly depletes the glycogen stores in the muscles and stimulates genes that improve cardiovascular function. Why this might be beneficial to one such as myself, I've no idea although I suppose any improvement in fitness is bound to be useful. The rapid loss of the general fatigue though is somewhat surprising.

    I don't know if you have access to the BBC iplayer but this is the episode featuring the HIIT workout and starts at 20 mins in...
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09qjl7d/the-truth-about-25-getting-fit

    or here on YT
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  11. Learner1

    Learner1 Forum Support Assistant

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    I was in the best shape of my life, having gotten there with a combination of a Paleo diet, weight lifting and HIIT consisting of 8 cycles of 2 min each with a warm up and cool down on a stepper, or doing butterfly sprints in a pool.

    Then I was diagnosed with stage 3 uterine/ovarian cancer. After abdominal surgery, I carefully got back into shape while going through chemotherapy, and got back up to doing 4 cycles of HIIT. Then I was rear ended in a car accident, tore my rotator cuff and hurt my upper and lower back, and experienced s traumatic family situation.

    That's when I slid into ME/CFS, where my endocrine and immune systems gave up and multiple chronic infections reactivated, which I've battled since.

    Through all this I've exercised as I could tolerate it, even when I was sleeping 16 hours a day and brain fogged. I like to exercise and believe in the benefits of exercise, especially avoiding deconditioning and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis.

    Working within my energy envelope, I've been able to weight lift, lighter than before and with 1-2 circuits vs. 3-4, taking naps as I got dizzy and crashed on the gym floor. Sometimes it took 4 naps to get through a workout. Sometimes I left the gym after 3 exercises. Many times I didn't have the energy to leave the house.

    One consistent theme has been that if I increase intensity, no matter how brief, I trigger POTS and PEM and even MCAS. Intensity of any kind, even for a minute, pushes my heart rate to 165 and my BP up to headache range and I crash.

    I can slowly use a stepper as a warm up for 5-12 minutes, but the rare times I've tried even 2 cycles of HIIT, I relapse, though on days I feel good, I can slowly walk for up to an hour these days. I can't swim a slow freestyle for more than 3 laps, though.

    i've tried supporting my ability to exercise with hydrocortisone (which I need anyway), coffee with d-ribose, branched chain amino acids, creatine, and NADH (and more recently, and even better, NAD+.) These help me do what I do, some days better than others.

    While I'm glad you can do HIIT @friendlycat , as an experienced exerciser who likes doing HIIT, its the last thing I'll add back in when I'm cured.

    At this point, and I've come a long way, I feel its a very dangerous thing for me to do. I've been able to do what I've done because I've exercised all my life and know how to listen to my body, and I've had advice from physical rehabilitation specialists and a friend who's an experienced professional trainer as I've gone through this journey.

    If I'm wrong here, I'd sure like to know how anyone with ME/CFS can do HIIT without doing damage and setting back their progress.

    Ideas?
     
  12. friendlycat

    friendlycat

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    Well, like I said, it does sound like the height of insanity; I only did it out of sheer frustration and fully expected to be properly incapacitated.
    As it's turned out, I've felt really rather good, sniffles of today notwithstanding, and I've hypothesised as to what might be occurring in earlier posts (coincident remission/possible recovery). As I also said, I'd consider myself a mild/moderate sufferer.
    But, yeah, no massive PEM after the exercise and the sapping fatigue has lifted.

    I, in no way, advocate this for anyone else but thought it a curious enough event to post.
     
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  13. Tally

    Tally Senior Member

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    I crash from wiggling my toes in bed
     
  14. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    @friendlycat, have you been tested (or tested yourself) for POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome)?

    A lot of ME/CFS patients have POTS, and POTS can cause ME/CFS-like symptoms just on its own. The interesting thing about POTS is that it is known to respond well to exercise. So the benefits you feel you are getting from interval training conceivably might (at least in part) be due to improving POTS, assuming you have POTS.


    One forum member with severe bedbound ME/CFS actually found a very intriguing way to perform a huge amount of cardiovascular exercise without getting any PEM repercussions at all: he found that if he took one tablet of prednisolone just before his heavy cardiovascular workout at the gym, it would completely prevent PEM arising. His story is in this thread: Supplements and Drugs That Reduce or Prevent PEM (Post-Exertional Malaise)

    After a year of doing such cardiovascular workouts once a week, he found he cured his POTS; but all that intense exercise he found made no improvement to his ME/CFS; he still has severe ME/CFS, but the POTS is gone.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
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  15. Diwi9

    Diwi9 Senior Member

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    Have you listened to David Systrom's webinar presentation with Dysautonomia International entitled, "Exercise Research in POTS: It's not Deconditioning!"

    He is interesting because he recognizes POTS, but also the POTS/MECFS combination. I would not want to do one of his tests...sound like torture with pulmonary catheters, but am thankful for his brave study subjects.
     
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  16. TenuousGrip

    TenuousGrip Senior Member

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    It's not so bad ;-)

    He did mine in mid-November.
     
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  17. friendlycat

    friendlycat

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    I suppose it could be POTS, I've experienced head rushes when standing for as long as i can remember although it really doesn't happen that often.
    After the fatigue set in, post viral illness, I was never 'officially' diagnosed with anything. Other factors were ruled out after blood tests and whatnot and CBT was recommended as a treatment.
    My mum has also experienced the same illness from about 2 months prior to me and, as far as I know, she doesn't have problems with a racing heart on standing but I'll ask.
     
  18. Learner1

    Learner1 Forum Support Assistant

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    My hyperadrenergic POTS is the thing preventing me from more intense exercise.
     
  19. *GG*

    *GG* senior member

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    I rarely catch other illnesses, and have a sore throat pretty much all the time.

    GG
     
  20. echobravo

    echobravo Keep searching, the answer is out there

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    I had an energy surge last august and ventured into HIIT 3x3 minutes on the threadmill - after close to zero excercise since 2012. This went quite well for 3 or 4 sessions at the gym, but then PEM set in, worse than ever before. Lots of time spent in bed, arms and legs burning and heavy as lead, feeling unwell, brain fog. Almost lost all of my arm strength - could hardly lift my arms above shoulder level!

    It seems that we are depleted of our energy molecules (ATP) when we overdo things, and our reservoir of ATP seems to need a very long time to “rebuild” (if ever). Then on top of that excessive lactic acid which also needs time to clear (liver) and is a process very demanding of ATP.
     

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