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Expanding Your Limits

If you live consistently within your envelope, it is often possible to expand your limits, so you are able to be more active without intensifying your symptoms.

Guidelines for Extending Your Limits

Over the years, we have found two guidelines helpful for expanding limits:

  1. Extend your limits a little bit at a time
  2. Return to your previous level if symptoms increase

A “little bit” typically means no more than 5% to 10%, often less. The second guideline is based on the recognition that with all experiments, some work and others don’t, so we need a plan for what to do in the cases where the result is different from what we hoped. If extending limits triggers an increase in symptoms, the appropriate response is to return to the proven-safe activity level.

See the article Strategies for Expanding the Envelope for the story of someone who used this approach to gradually extend her exercise limit from 100 yards a day to four miles. The article also offers some additional ideas about how to expand limits.

(Note that the first goal for exercise should be to do activities of daily living [ADLs], such as feeding yourself, bathing and dressing, and household chores, without intensifying symptoms. Once that is achieved, it is appropriate to move on to a formal exercise routine.)

Four Pacing Success Stories

To give you some additional perspective on how to expand your envelope, the article Four Pacing Success Stories summarizes the experience of four people who made significant improvement using pacing. (For additional personal accounts of improvement, see the articles on our Success Stories page.)