Mind & Mood

Cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise therapy help ease chronic fatigue symptoms

In the largest randomized trial comparing treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome, British researchers have found that graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — when added to medical care from chronic fatigue specialists — are each better than specialist medical care alone at reducing fatigue and improving physical function. In the trial, called PACE, these strategies also worked better than specialist medical care combined with adaptive pacing therapy (APT), in which patients are taught how to reduce fatigue by adjusting their lifestyle and activity levels.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by otherwise unexplained debilitating fatigue that lasts for six months or more and isn't relieved by bed rest. Other symptoms are poor sleep, problems concentrating, and muscle or joint pain. There are no diagnostic tests for the disorder, and its cause is unknown, although laboratory and other studies have suggested that a virus or other infectious agent may be involved.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Sign Up
Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.