It’s been a long day full of activities and errands, and you are exhausted. The last thing you want to do is head to the gym, and good luck trying to summon the energy to follow through with the full hour of cardio, weight lifting and yoga that you should to do to make up for last week. But two new studies show that if you are constantly tired, that is exactly what you should do to avoid a repeat of fatigue in the future. In some cases, only an extra 10 minutes per day were required to replenish energy levels and beat the ‘blahs’ better than extra couch time.
According to one survey, an estimated 25% of us experience fatigue on a daily basis. Researchers found that regular, low-intensity workouts – such as a leisurely stroll – boosted energy levels by about 20%. Light workouts fought this fatigue even more, and 65% of people felt less like snoozing on the sofa.
In this particular study done by a team of researchers at the University of Georgia Exercise Psychology Laboratory, volunteers were divided into three groups. One group rode a stationary bike at a “moderately intense” level three times a week for six weeks. The second group rode the bike the same amount, but a more “leisurely pace”. The third group did no exercise at all. Every week, the participants were surveyed to rate how energetic and how tired they felt.
Results showed that the volunteers in both exercising groups increased their energy levels by 20% over their couch-potato counterparts, and they also reported significantly decreased feelings of fatigue. This research added to growing evidence supporting the psychological benefits of exercise. Exercising may not just help your body, but your mind too.
This thought was echoed by researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, who found this to be particularly true for post-menopausal women. They analyzed data from the Dose Response to Exercise (DREW) in Postmenopausal women. .
The study found that even just 10 minutes of exercise per day improved not only metabolism and aerobic capacity, but also significantly enhanced the subjects’ quality of life.
The study involved 464 sedentary, overweight postmenopausal women who were assigned to four exercise categories: none, 70 minutes, 135 minutes, or 190 minutes of exercise per week. The participants were supervised during their workouts on treadmills and stationary bikes. Part of the benefit from ‘getting going’? Each of the three exercise groups lost a modest amount of weight (3-4 pounds). More importantly, subjects scored higher on tests that measured mental outlook, sociability, and vitality.
This study included post menopausal women, but don’t forget about men and younger folks. They should also get up and move some to derive similar benefits.
Where to start? The day before, create a playlist on your iPod that will give you a sense of well-being. For some, this may be calming, de-stressing tunes, for others, more energetic and invigorating music maybe be enjoyable. Whatever your lyrical tastes, have a selection ready to accompany you, or invite a friend for some quality conversation. When it’s time to hit the pavement (or the machines), begin by putting on your exercise clothing and tennis shoes. If you never change out of your work clothes, you’re more likely skip the workout, cancel on your friend and simply veg out, giving in to your fatigue. Then, grab a water bottle and head out the door. If ten minutes seems too long for you, start with five, and then re-evaluate and see if you can do five more.
Small, daily doses of exercise can improve not only your physical health, but also your mental well-being.
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