Why am I so tired all the time?
Fatigue or tiredness is a very complex symptom and there can be many reasons why you may feel tired. Fatigue results from an inability to produce energy efficiently. This can be as a result of you doing too much and building up waste products in your body which is causing your fatigue.
To produce energy you need to be able to have a good fuel source and an ability to bring oxygen through your system to meet the fuel source in your muscle tissue to produce energy.
As you breathe you are taking oxygen in from the air. This travels to your lung and then into your blood stream and back to the heart. The heart then pumps the blood filled with oxygen to your muscles via the arteries, for example if you are out walking the oxygen will travel to the muscles in your legs. At the muscle tissue the oxygen meets your fuel source and produces energy. If there is any reason why this system is not working properly you will experience fatigue i.e..
• If you cannot get enough oxygen in through your lungs
• If the arteries are sluggish and cannot respond when you increase your activity because you are unfit
• If the blood cannot carry the oxygen efficiently, i.e. when you are anaemic
• If you are not getting enough sleep your cells cannot be replenished
• If your muscles are weak and although they are getting enough fuel and oxygen they cannot produce the energy
Other reasons for fatigue include depression, diabetes, stress and food intolerances.
How can exercise help fatigue?
Exercise is a great way of improving your body’s ability to produce energy and so to reduce your fatigue levels. It improves your ability to take on oxygen as you breathe more efficiently. Your arteries begin to respond more efficiently to changes in activity and as your muscles become stronger you can produce energy more effectively. You should aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week and complete some strength work.
If you are concerned about your fatigue levels please contact your healthcare professional.
Karen Cradock is a Specialist Cardiac Physiotherapist at Heart 2 Heart Cardiac Physiotherapy.