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December 2019

How to Fight Fatigue

Wish the energy of youth could be bottled? If so, you aren’t alone. Fatigue is one of most common symptoms among older adults and can hold you back from living your best life. But it doesn’t have to.

Older man holding a serving bowl of salad

Fatigue is different for everyone

Some people describe fatigue as a lack of energy or just plain tiredness. Others think of it as being mentally or physically exhausted. The feelings of fatigue—as well as the reasons for them—are difficult to pinpoint.

Experts know that some people experience fatigue due to underlying health issues such as Parkinson disease or cancer treatment. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea may also be to blame. And even some medicines such as antidepressants and antihistamines can zap your energy.

But health issues aren’t the only cause of fatigue. Many people feel tired because of unhealthy lifestyle habits. And sometimes, a clear reason for fatigue just can’t be found. 

Increase your energy

The good news is that there are ways to boost your energy and feel better. In addition to talking with your healthcare provider to rule out any health issues:

Exercise

Feeling tired? Get moving! Regular physical activity helps fight fatigue by improving your energy levels. And it doesn’t have to be strenuous. Take a walk with a friend. Join a tai chi class. Start slowly and work up to 150 minutes of physical activity per week. 

Practice good sleep habits

Boost your quality of sleep by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Don’t nap longer than 30 minutes. Turn off electronics at least a half hour before bedtime. And keep your bedroom dark and cool.

Fuel up

Use nutrition to boost energy. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and opt for whole grains and lean meats. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration—a cause of fatigue. And pass up alcohol and caffeinated drinks, which can disrupt sleep.

Get engaged

Sometimes simply being bored can make you feel tired. Make a plan to add fun activities to your day. Volunteer at an organization. Join a book club. Teach your grandkids something new.

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2019
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