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Exercise Can Help Beat Fatigue

Exercise Can Help Beat Fatigue

4/22/02


DENTON — Tired? Just don't have any energy? The answer to fighting fatigue could be exercise.

“Exercise appears to be a good combatant to fatigue,” said Dr. Maureen Simmonds, associate professor of physical therapy at Texas Woman's University's Houston campus. “It doesn't need to be stringent,” Dr. Simmonds added. “Thirty minutes of activity every other day typically will do.”

Despite the research that indicates exercise is excellent therapy for battling fatigue, one of the greatest challenges most people face is getting started on an exercise routine.

When fatigued it becomes easy to be caught in a downward spiral, Dr. Simmonds said. A cycle develops where decreased activity can lead to muscle weakening, and then any activity appears to require more effort. This can lead to a depressed mood and disinterest in exercise, which in turn leads to more inactivity.

Exercise can help end the downward cycle and lead to an upward, positive cycle that leads to increased muscle strength, increased performance, optimism and an increased interest and ability to exercise.

Aerobic exercise makes the heart stronger, and a fit heart can deliver about 25 percent more oxygen when the body is at rest and about 50 percent more oxygen during physical activity, according to medical research. Stronger muscles also increase endurance throughout the day. And a stronger body can mean less fatigue.

“Activity and exercise is good for you, making you stronger and healthier,” Dr. Simmonds said.

Exercise can improve quality of sleep, too, helping combat fatigue. Studies also have demonstrated that exercise has anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties.

When beginning an exercise program, start slowly, Dr. Simmonds said. Consulting a physician also is recommended, especially for those who have been physically inactive for a long period of time.

Expectations of immediate results from an exercise program are unrealistic, Dr. Simmonds added. Goals or targets should be set, but they need to be reasonable. “Targets should be challenging, but achievable,” she said.

A series of smaller targets will help in achieving a larger, overall goal of better fitness and feeling less fatigued. Adequate sleep and a balanced diet are other important factors in combating and preventing fatigue.

Dr. Simmonds earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on the multi-dimensional assessment of pain, fatigue, function and the quality of life across diseases and disorders such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.

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For Further Information Contact:

Roy Kron
Director of News and Information
Tel: (940) 898-3456
e-mail: rkron@twu.edu