by Melodie Davis
for release July 28, 2000
A Cure For Tiredness?
I used to experience extreme tiredness. Not enough to consult the doctor-not the chronic fatigue syndrome that you hear about although I sometimes wondered whether that was what I was experiencing. It was a bone weary kind of feeling where you just don't have any energy towards the end of the day. You feel drained. I figured it was my age, my schedule, the stress of living today.
Well it is all that, but I have gotten quite a bit of relief from (that dreaded word), exercise. You hear it preached all the time. You try jogging for awhile and then your feet and legs kill you. It rains a few days and you get out of the routine. You go on vacation and can't go to the gym, so you get out of the habit.
I think there are two keys for long term success in sticking with exercise. (And ask me a year from now whether I'm still with it.) The first is, find a compelling reason that makes the exercise worth it. Heart patients often find that the threat of a repeat heart attack, or the "close call" with death itself is a compelling reason to begin a healthy walking program. For some, being able to lose weight, or maintain a weight loss might be the motivation. Exercise definitely makes a difference in weight control.
For me, not feeling so bone-weary tired at the end of the day makes exercise seem more worthwhile (in addition to the other benefits listed above). I still get tired, but I don't feel so much like I'm going to fall apart.
The second key is finding an exercise schedule or program that works for you. You won't stick with something that is not "you." Some people exercise best with a friend. Another person helps you stay accountable, gives you a reason to go for that walk or that jog. Some find it best to exercise with a group or class. Some find it easier to stay motivated when they are paying for membership in a gym, where you know you are wasting money if you don't go.
None of the above work for me. I'm more of a loner, so coordinating my schedule with someone else's seems like too much work. I don't have time for a class and I find that going to a wellness center takes too much time (I tried that for two years. We live too far away, it takes gas to drive there.)
What is working for me right now is going back to the simple exercises I used to do: sit ups, leg lifts, leg raises, squats, push ups, touching toes, and so on. It was something I could stick with in high school, so I'm hopeful it's a routine I can stick with now (I've been on it for about two months now).
I can do them while getting ready for work, watching the morning news. It only takes about 7 minutes to get my heart racing. I know, I should go for longer, and maybe that will come. But for now, even this limited amount of exercise 4 -5 days a week is making me feel better. I can tell I have more strength in my arms and get less winded. Other ideas that may work for you: going for a 15-minute walk at lunch; using an exercise bike in front of the TV; enjoying the outdoors by walking after work. (Our road is too busy and dangerous for walking.)
Just a footnote that perhaps the other reason I am less fatigued is I have finally (knock on wood) been able to give up my other long standing vice, caffeine (a year and a half now). Again, the motivation came from having a compelling, personal reason to quit. The mammogram staff recommended staying off caffeine for a month before a mammogram to have less pain with that procedure. That was enough motivation for me, because the pain has sometimes been severe. I also found that eliminating caffeine has helped overall tenderness in that area, which was another problem for me.
I share these examples not to boast in any way; indeed, it is scary, because now everyone knows what I am trying to do. I still have plenty of vices (ask me about licorice) but I hope this encourages others or brings new insight on common problems for many of us. Perhaps "having a compelling personal reason" works for other vices as well, like quitting smoking or drinking.
When you fear losing your family; when you want to clean up the air for your children-these are motivation to quit these habits. So the "cure" I'm suggesting is not just exercise, but finding a reason to quit that works for you.
I'd love to hear what works for you: Send comments to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.
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