Friday, May 30, 2008

Fatigue and Exercise

Exercise can improve your mood and adds to your energy reserves. But if you are dealing with fatigue—either on a chronic basis or just for a day—how do you get enough energy to start exercising in the first place? And how do you keep yourself from depleting what little stamina you have?

First of all, don’t gamble all your get-up-and-go on one activity, even exercise. Always keep a bit of energy for yourself. Scale back your expectations of accomplishment, start small, and slowly build up over time.

Also, have fun. If exercise is drudgery, you have to use precious energy just to get started. But if you do something you love (swimming in the ocean, walking in the woods, undulating, dancing, etc.), you’ll be invigorated. The more you can do, the more you will want to do.

Focus on movements that feel good. Pain is an energy-zapper and signals that you are causing injury. On the other hand, exercise that is pleasurable will nourish your body and feed your spirit. As soon as activity starts to feel bad, stop and either modify what you’re doing to feel good again or call it a day.

I’ll be presenting at a workshop, entitled Coping with Fatigue through Exercise, sponsored by the Multiple Sclerosis Association of King County on Wednesday, June 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the North Bellevue Community Center ( The keynote speaker is Ted Brown, MD, MHP, Head of Rehabilitative Medicine from at Evergreen Medical Center. ( I’ll lead movements that make it easier to exercise.

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