PAIN IS MORE than just pain. Pain drains you. Pain can be an in visible weight that presses you down with each moment. So why move? Why get up and go for a bike ride rather than sit on that very cozy couch watching Netflix?
Energy. Health. Resilience. Joy.
Fatigue is an extremely common complaint in my practice. Sometimes fatigue can be traced back to a specific organic disease; more commonly, it remains vague and disheartening.
Today I’m going to share a tried-and-true way to defeat fatigue and get more energy:
Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Isn’t it true that exercise expends calories, and therefore you’ll be more tired after a workout? Partially. In the short term, a good burst of rigorous exercise provides a natural endorphin rush that can kick-start your day. And while you might feel more fatigued in the first week as your body adjusts to the new routine, eventually you’ll notice the benefits. Probably sooner than you think. Possibly within a week or two.
Getting healthy and staying healthy is hard work. It’s literally a lifelong pursuit. While most folks are primarily concerned with avoiding diabetes and chronic heart disease, there’s another wellness thief that tends to sneak up on you:
I’m not talking about the type of chronic pain that occurs due to an autoimmune condition, or a motor vehicle accident, or the Standard American Diet catching up with you at long last – although many of these things may be related comorbidities.
I’m talking about chronic pain due to immobility
How often are you in front of a screen? Hunched over, typing, scrolling? How often are you sitting in a car, or on the sofa? How often are you waiting in line, wearing uncomfortable shoes? How many steps do you get in a day? The less you move now, the less you’ll be able to move as you get older. Tension will build up, circulation will slow down, and joint space will compress. Common issues such as back pain, knee pain, neck pain, and that full-body discouraging ache are soon to follow. So what do you do about it?
Get your pain in now. Which is to say, find a new way to move your muscles, and revel in the soreness that comes with hard work. Challenge yourself, within reason. If you’re not sure how to get started, ask for help. It’s worth the extra money to pay for a professional trainer who can make sure that you push yourself just the right amount: Enough so that you feel satisfied and appropriately sore at the end of the session, but not so much that you overdo it and injure yourself.
Sore muscles and discomfort will help you pay it forward. The more regularly you can experience the good type of pain associated with muscle development and growth, the less likely you’ll be to experience chronic pain from immobility in the future.
The best movement is what you’ll actually do. Hate running? Try swing or salsa dancing. Find the gym intimidating? Try a small Pilates class. Try something new, something fun. Run around the park and do pushups in the dirt. Climb trees. Take a dance class. Play a team sport that you loved in high school. Experiment around town with free or drop-in classes until you find something that brings you joy.
One of the most efficient ways get more energy faster is any exercise that focuses on strength and muscle building. More muscle means more mitochondria, and more mitochondria means more energy.
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They provide energy (ATP) for nearly every cellular function. If your cells are short on mitochondria, then they’ll be short on energy. And if your cells are tired, then so are you
Furthermore, the more regularly you exercise (move, dance, spring, lift), the easier it will be over all. A body in motion stays in motion
And there will be more immediate benefits, too: You’ll have more energy, and you’ll sleep better. You’ll feel stronger, more confident, more capable. You may even find that the benefits extend into your personal and professional life. There is no such thing as a magic bullet or panacea for health, but breaking a sweat every day with regular movement comes pretty close.