RESEARCH: SCU lead researcher Dr Sonja Coetzee with Barbara Darroch, of Wollongbar, at the SCU pool.
RESEARCH: SCU lead researcher Dr Sonja Coetzee with Barbara Darroch, of Wollongbar, at the SCU pool. Marc Stapelberg

Can water exercise help chronic fatigue sufferers?

WATER-BASED exercise may be the key to a better quality of life for people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Southern Cross University's lead researcher Dr Sonja Coetzee is seeking another 20 participants for a new six-month aquatic exercise study as part of a robust long-term investigation to show how aquatic activity can benefit sufferers.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a debilitating condition that causes extreme fatigue, pain and sleep problems.

The project will investigate the effects of a six-month supervised, self-paced, gentle aquatic exercise intervention on exercise capacity and wellness, fatigue, tiredness and other symptoms.

Barbara Darroch has been suffering from CFS for 30 years but taking part in the SCU pilot aquatic exercise study in 2016, ahead of the upcoming trial, changed her life.

"Over all these years, it's the best exercise that I've found to suit me," Ms Darroch said.

"It's safe, you are well supported, it didn't leave me fatigued and boosted my confidence ... it's also beneficial psychologically."

Dr Coetzee said aquatic exercise and hydrotherapy were recommended types of physical activity for people with Fibromyalgia and muscle pain but the type of exercise had not been investigated or considered as form of management or intervention in sufferers, even though up to 70 per cent of people with CFS/ME also have Fibromyalgia.

She said the pilot study showed five weeks of aquatic exercise for ME/CFS was well-tolerated with no symptom exacerbation.

"There were significant improvements in aerobic capacity, strength and flexibility," she said.

From the trial results, Dr Coetzee hopes to gather good evidence for clinical practice to show what CFS sufferers can do and what type of activities are safe for them.

To participate in the study, individuals must be aged between 18 and 80 years and have a current diagnosis by a doctor.

For more information and to participate, contact sonja.coetzee@scu.edu.au.



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