How fatigue affects your health and fitness goals
Ask any office worker, student, or even a homemaker and they would agree that their productivity takes a significant dip towards the end of the day. After a long day, they are usually too tired to do any more tasks for the day and even go out for a walk or take part in any physical activity. Instead, most people prefer lounging on the sofa with their smartphone and TV, claiming to need only ‘rest’ as they have worked hard the whole day. Do you know the importance of sleep?
Yes, in today’s fast-paced culture, it is considered a norm to be tired at the end of the day. However, it should not be that way and one should be able to be as productive during the evening as he or she is at the start of the day.
What is Fatigue?
Generally, fatigue is described as a lack of energy and motivation to partake in any physical, mental, or both types of activities. It is a common condition and people usually describe it as feeling weary, tired, low on energy, exhausted, or the need to sleep. In fact, a CBC poll conducted in 2011 found that around 58 percent of Canadians report that they often feel tired – indicating the country’s need to understand the importance of sleep. The lack of energy and the feeling of being tired at most times of the day usually cause hindrance in the individual’s work-life balance, fitness regime, and even personal relationships.
Is medical assistance required for the treatment of fatigue?
Yes, in some cases medical intervention is required to treat the root cause of fatigue. These include:
- Feeling tired even after getting adequate rest and sleep.
- Fatigue comes on suddenly
- The fatigue causes faintness or drowsiness
- Experiencing fatigue, tired, and lack of energy for more than six months. Medically, this term is called chronic fatigue syndrome and requires psychological and medicinal treatment.
- Fatigue is accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, bleeding, unexplained pain in any area of the body, irregular heartbeat, fever, and/or unexplained weight loss.
What causes fatigue?
As it is mentioned above, it is normal to feel fatigued after intense physical and mental exertion. Simply looking at one’s daily schedule can indicate the effects of fatigue piling up.
The traffic en route to work, the pressure of deadlines, the competition between peers – all lead to intense fatigue – both physical and mental. This weary feeling leaves individuals with less or no time to take part in any healthy activity such as sit-down balanced meals and gym or any other fitness regime for the matter – which ultimately leads to adopting an unhealthy lifestyle.
How to treat fatigue and make modifications for the betterment of your health and fitness?
Fatigue that is chronic in condition usually requires medical assistance for treatment. The doctor in charge usually prescribes vitamin supplements, antibiotics to treat the infection if any, and may even suggest medications for sleep apnea.
The doctors would also run a test to rule out any underlying medical condition for recurrent fatigue. Some illnesses that contribute to excessive fatigue include diabetes, anemia, thyroid, tumors, brain strokes, an irregular heart condition, and even pregnancy.
On the other hand, for general feelings of fatigues, experts recommend simply changing lifestyle routines and understanding the importance of sleep and exercise to refuel the energy tanks.
The last thing a person wants to do when they are tired is exercise. However, leading an active lifestyle is shown to improve energy levels, vigor, and overall quality of life. Individuals who regularly exercise have optimum functionality in their hearts, lungs, and muscles. This enables them with more energy for everyday tasks along with better self-confidence, mood, and enhanced mental stimulation.
- Stay hydrated
Dehydration can be another cause of fatigue. Whether a person works out at the gym or sitting at their office all day – the body requires an adequate supply of fluids to remain cool. Lack of water in the body can also lead to lack of concentration and alertness.
Experts recommend drinking around 8 – 10 glasses of water during the day. Light-colored or pale yellow urine should be a sign of adequate water in the body. It is also suggested to drink at least two cups of water an hour before any planned physical activity and taking mini ‘water’ breaks throughout the session as well.
- Sleep early
The importance of sleep is well established. Countless research has shown the numerous benefits of sleeping early and getting at least 8 hours of shuteye. Unfortunately, in this digital era, most adults are getting less sleep than they require – resulting in negative consequences throughout the day.
The fix – make sleep a priority. Avoid screen time (TV, mobile, tablets, laptop) at least an hour before the designated bedtime. Taking a shower before bedtime helps while maintaining balanced room temperature, noise control, and dimming the lights can be beneficial.
However, if the problem persists, it is a good idea to be evaluated by a doctor for sleep disorders or any medical condition that might be preventing one from falling and staying asleep.
- Take a nap
If fatigue remains to be a problem even after a good night’s sleep – consider taking power naps during the middle of the day. In fact, a 10 – 30-minute nap is ideal to restore the energy followed by a cup of coffee for an energy boost. However, it is advisable to limit the afternoon nap to a maximum of 30 minutes in order to avoid sleep trouble during the night.
- Eat a balanced diet
In this fast-paced world, many people forego balanced meals for takeout and processed options. However, a balanced diet is necessary to balance the blood sugar levels of the body.
Eating too little or too more can also negatively affect the body and make one tired. The key is to maintain balance for sustained energy throughout the day.
- Cut back on caffeine
Caffeinated food and beverages such as coffee, tea, chocolates, and soft drinks can increase alertness and revitalize energy – when taken moderately. Large amounts of caffeine can, however, increase heart rate, blood pressure, and may cause fatigue in the body.
Those who have a habit of taking too much caffeine throughout the day should gradually decrease their intake. Avoid stopping it suddenly as this can cause symptoms of caffeine withdrawal and more tiredness.
- Check stress levels
Last but not least, control stress, anxiety, and levels of depression. Feeling blue once in a while is common and more than ok but being tired and down for more than a few weeks requires consultation by a health care provider.
Moreover, it is not possible to juggle the many tasks each day. Resist the temptation to tackle everything that is handed your way. Take deep breaths, do not panic, and address each task according to their priority.
There are many factors that contribute to fatigue and feeling of being ‘worn down.’ If a medical condition is ruled out, it is important to focus on reviving the energy by getting adequate sleep, taking balanced meals, and making physical activity a part of daily life. Make health and fitness a priority and realize the importance of sleep!