For those living with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, everyday tasks can feel overwhelming. Simple activities such as grocery shopping or going for a walk can cause extreme exhaustion and pain. Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) is a form of treatment that aims to improve symptoms by gradually increasing physical activity levels. But does it really work? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits and risks of GET and what research says about its effectiveness.

What is Graded Exercise Therapy?

Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) is a treatment program that gradually increases physical activity levels to improve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. The goal is to help patients build up their stamina and function more efficiently, reducing their symptoms over time.

GET typically involves a customized exercise plan that is designed to gradually increase physical activity levels. Patients work with a healthcare professional to set achievable goals and gradually increase activity levels over time. This may include a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching.

Benefits of Graded Exercise Therapy:

Research suggests that graded exercise therapy can be effective in reducing symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. A 2017 Cochrane review found that GET was more effective than standard medical care or no treatment in reducing fatigue and improving physical function in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Additionally, a 2019 study found that GET was effective in reducing pain and fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia.

Aside from symptom relief, graded exercise therapy can also provide a range of other health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, better sleep quality, reduced anxiety and depression, and increased overall physical fitness.

Risks of Graded Exercise Therapy:

While graded exercise therapy can be effective, it’s important to understand that it’s not without risks. Overexertion can cause pain, fatigue, and potentially worsen symptoms. Additionally, patients who push themselves too hard may experience setbacks or prolonged recovery times.

It’s important to work with a qualified healthcare professional when starting a graded exercise therapy program. They can help you develop a safe and effective exercise plan that is tailored to your individual needs and abilities.

Controversies Surrounding Graded Exercise Therapy:

Despite the potential benefits of graded exercise therapy, there has been some controversy surrounding its use. Some patients have reported feeling worse after participating in GET, while others have expressed concerns about the safety of the treatment.

One issue is the potential for overexertion. Patients may push themselves too hard, causing a flare-up of symptoms or worsening their condition. Additionally, some critics have argued that graded exercise therapy places too much emphasis on exercise and that other aspects of treatment (such as cognitive behavioral therapy) may be more effective.


Graded exercise therapy can be an effective treatment option for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, but it’s important to approach it with caution. Working with a qualified healthcare professional can help ensure that you are following a safe and effective exercise plan that is tailored to your individual needs and abilities. While there are some risks associated with graded exercise therapy, the potential benefits (including improved physical function and reduced symptoms) may make it worth considering for some patients. If you are considering graded exercise therapy, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine if this NEW fatigue recovery approach is the right choice for you.


  • Nijs, J., Van Eupen, I., Vandecauter, J., Augustinus, M., & Meeus, M. (2021). Graded Exercise Therapy in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Review for Clinicians. Clinical Rheumatology, 1-9

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