All of us have experienced tiredness, exhaustion, and fatigue. Sometimes it hits after a late night spent working or socializing. Other times, our exhaustion seems to come out of nowhere. With our fast-paced modern lifestyles, it’s not surprising that statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report around 15.3% of women and 10.1% of men regularly feeling very tired or exhausted in the United States.
A lack of sufficient sleep isn’t the only factor that could be contributing to your fatigue. Poor dietary habits, excessive napping, unhealthy amounts of stress in your daily life, and living a more sedentary lifestyle are all possibilities according to an article entitled, “Why you feel tired”, published in Medical News Today. Now, it might seem counter-intuitive that more exercise could help you feel less tired, but it’s the truth.
Sitting on the couch is one of the worst things you can do for chronic fatigue or tiredness – not to mention the negative impact it has on your back. Moderate amounts of exercise are proven to boost your energy – not drain it – and getting a good workout in during the day will help you sleep better at night.
If you rarely exercise with intention, or spend most of your day at a desk, it can be challenging to transition into a more active lifestyle. But it’s not as difficult as you may think.
Here are three easy ways to get moving during the day and feel less tired:
Get up every 30 minutes
I give this advice all the time to help prevent back pain. But it is also a great way to break up the fatigue that starts to set in when you’ve been sedentary for too long. Simply stand up, give your back and arms a little stretch, and every few hours go for a short brisk walk. Not only will this help minimize fatigue, it will also help you to be more motivated to do some intentional exercise later in the day.
Find an afternoon walking buddy
Studies have shown that you’re significantly more likely to accomplish a goal when you’ve got someone counting on you to do it. And with technology now, your accountability partner doesn’t even need to be near you. Grab a friend who you know needs to move more during the day – just like you – and agree on a time and place to “meet”. You could meet on Zoom and agree to stretch together. You could hop on the phone and go for a walk while catching up with them. And of course, if you’re in the same area, find an afternoon exercise class that you can attend together. Accountability is one of the best ways to begin and commit to a new activity, so think of someone you can do this with and give them a call right now.
Drink more water
This might seem like a strange suggestion, but if you aim for 8 glasses of water per day it will keep you hydrated, which will help you to have more energy to move more and exercise. Studies have shown that even mild hydration – or a 1% loss of body water – can reduce muscle strength, power, and endurance. When you feel this way, you’re far less likely to move and exercise. Plus, being dehydrated puts you at a greater risk for injury, which will certainly limit your ability to move. So drink plenty of water during the day to set yourself up for success to have the energy to keep moving.
We say all the time that movement is medicine, and it’s true in more ways than one. Movement is medicine for the aches and pains of your joints and muscles, but it’s also medicine for your stress and exhaustion. Exercise stimulates endorphin release, triggering positive feelings of elation or mild euphoria. Shifting into a more positive mental state during a day when you’re feeling completely drained will help you cope better with whatever you’re dealing with, in addition to giving you more energy to get through it. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym every day – just 30 minutes of movement each day will make a difference.
Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or get a free copy of her guide to taking care of back pain, email her at [email protected] or call 603-380-7902.