Inactivity and Fatigue

By Robyn Priebe
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Have you ever noticed that the less you move, the less energy you have?  Lack of physical activity seems to be a reason for sleep deprivation that many of us experience. It’s almost the opposite of what you might expect, that resting and not expending energy would further zap your energy level. However, sitting around all day is not the equivalent of a good night’s sleep, which might help us feel energized the next day.

The tough part is once you have fallen into this trap, it feels so difficult to get out of it.  We may know that moving more will boost our energy levels, but when you are already feeling fatigued, it may seem like the last thing we want to do, especially if your norm for activity has been intense activity.

For example, cardio-wise I love to run, but I haven’t done so in a long time because of the weather and having too much on my plate work & school-wise.  The thought of going for a run to boost my energy level seems pretty overwhelming right now.  However, it may actually be better for me to go for a short walk.  Not only does that feel more doable, but low intensity exercise may be better for boosting one’s energy level.

While none of this is new news…the issue is determining what YOU will do to add those brief bouts of low-intensity activity to break the cycle.  Keeping the activity short at first might increase the likelihood that we will follow through with moving and get that energy boost we need.  Here are some options:

Use the last 5 or 10 minutes of a lunch break to:

  • walk outside
  • plug in your ipod and dance to 1 song (with your office door closed of course)
  • walk the stairs in your building
  • if you are lucky enough to have a gym where you work, hit a cardio machine for 5 minutes.

For those who work at home: take a 10 minute break every 2 hours to:

  • walk your dog
  • dance
  • hula hoop
  • walk the stairs
  • do a few squats or lunges
  • do a few minutes of any online or on-demand workout video
  • bounce on an exercise ball
  • hold a few yoga poses
  • play an active video game like Wii or Kinect

What are some ways you add short bouts of activity into your day?  Do you feel more energized when you do?

3 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Maria Tadic says:

    I was just thinking that this morning! I always take 2 days off a week from exercising and on those days, I’m much more tired – even though I got more sleep!!

  • Anna says:

    These are great tips! I truly believe a healthy lifestyle is one filled with these little bursts of activity spread throughout the day. I definitely notice an improvement when I get up and walk around or do light stretching throughout the day. Thanks!

  • Robyn Priebe says:

    Maria, I’m happy to hear it’s not just me. That’s impressive that you are active 5 days a week; good for you! Thanks, Anna, I hope these ideas help you mix up your bursts of activity. I look forward to them versus sometimes feeling overwhelmed at the thought of an hour in the gym.

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