Tired All the Time? Step It Up
Low-Intensity Exercise Edges Out Fatigue -- Without Requiring Lots of Sweat
Feb. 29, 2008 -- If fatigue hounds your days, a little exercise
may shoo it away without leaving you drenched with sweat.
So say University of Georgia researchers. In a new study, they report that
healthy young adults who say they're tired all the time got an energy boost
from a low-intensity workout plan.
Here's all it took: three sessions per week of pedaling a stationary bicycle
at a mild pace. They didn't need to train every day, and they didn't push
themselves too far -- just far enough to shake their fatigue.
In short, that old excuse, "I'm too tired to exercise," is dead
wrong. You may feel too tired, but if you can just do it anyway, you'll likely
wind up with more energy.
"Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out --
especially when we are already feeling fatigued," researcher Timothy Puetz,
PhD, says in a news release. "However, we have shown that regular exercise
can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy, particularly in
Puetz and colleagues studied 36 young adults (average age: 23) who said they
were tired all the time but who didn't have chronic
fatigue syndrome or any other medical reason for their tiredness.
When the study started, all participants were sedentary. They took a fitness
test and then were split into three groups.
One group was assigned to moderate-intensity exercise. Three times a week
for six weeks, they rode a stationary bike for 20 minutes after a five-minute
Another group followed the same workout schedule, but at a low-intensity
pace. For comparison, the third group simply sat on an exercise bike -- without
pedaling it -- for an equal amount of time.
Every week, participants rated how energetic and how tired they felt.
Both groups of exercisers reported a 20% boost in their energy level.
The low-intensity group reported the biggest improvement in fighting their
fatigue. That may be because the gentle pace of their workout didn't overtax
them, note Puetz end colleagues.
Participants didn't become exercise fanatics. They pretty much remained
sedentary except for their study assignment. So their new vigor didn't require
a lot of time or a radical lifestyle change.
The study appears in February's edition of Psychotherapy and
Check in with your doctor before starting a new exercise
program, especially if you've been inactive for a while.