Tired? Perk Up with Some Exercise
If you are chronically tired, getting moving might be just the thing to put some pep in your step. A new study has found that exercise can improve energy and lessen feelings of tiredness in people who suffer from persistent fatigue.
The effects of exercise on people with certain chronic medical conditions (heart disease and cancer, for example) are well documented, but less is known about its role in improving stamina in people suffering from fatigue without an underlying disease. The new study aimed to determine how exercise affects feelings of fatigue and energy in young people with fatigue unrelated to a medical condition.
In the study, published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 36 sedentary people with persistent fatigue ranging in age from 18 to 35 were assigned to a low- or moderate-intensity exercise group, or to a no-treatment control group. The low-intensity group worked out on a stationary bicycle at 40% of their peak oxygen consumption (roughly equivalent to walking at a leisurely pace) and the moderate intensity group at 75% of their peak oxygen consumption (about the same as walking at a fast pace), for 30 minutes three times per week for six weeks.
Slow and steady the best bet for persistent fatigue
People in the low- and moderate-intensity exercise groups had a 20% improvement in energy levels after six weeks compared with levels at the beginning of the study. Low-intensity exercise decreased feelings of fatigue by 65%, compared with 49% in the moderate-intensity group. The changes in fatigue and energy levels were unrelated to changes in aerobic fitness. The authors suggested that energy and fatigue improvements are due to the direct effects of exercise on the central nervous system.
Exercise professionals agree
“I have found that maintaining a consistent exercise routine keeps me feeling well balanced and energized,” says Rachel Weisz-Nesshoever, Aerobic and Fitness Association of America certified group exercise instructor in Narragansett, Rhode Island. “Exercise has a way of lifting the spirits and combating fatigue. Sometimes people who are chronically tired tend to avoid exercising. What they don’t realize is that—if it’s done right—exercise can actually give you more stamina and energy to do the things you want to do.”
July 17, 2008
(Psychother Psychosom 2008;77:167–74)
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She cofounded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI. Dr. Beauchamp practices as a birth doula and lectures on topics including whole-foods nutrition, detoxification, and women’s health.
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