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Why Lack of Movement is Our Biggest Enemy and How to Deal With It

Why Lack of Movement is Our Biggest Enemy and How to Deal With It

However far apart, our mornings are probably just the same. There’s that sting in the eyes you feel as soon as you open them and that blatant pain that keeps on spreading from your lower back all the way up to your shoulders and head. And, finally, the realization that nothing will change, not even today – in the exact same order as the years before, you’ll have some pastry and coffee for breakfast, a tense stomach until noon, and a fuzzy head throughout the day.

Accepting Responsibility

    Once again, you’ll hear all about the glorious possibilities that the digital age has endowed us with, and once again, you’ll go to bed wondering what makes your muscles so sore and your bones so weak. Another day, you’ll come across an article about all those troubling consequences of a sedentary lifestyle and you’ll try to convince yourself that your fatigue and stress are caused by too much work.

    Having gone through all of that myself, I must warn you that extrinsic factors are not always to blame. Your aching lack of movement is a modern disease, indeed, but it still begins in your mind-set. Your choices might be your worst enemy, but the good news is that you can change them for the better.

    It will be hard, I won’t delude you. But, once you start waking up with the sun on your eyelids and a smile on your face, you’ll see that it was all worth it.Here’s how to flip your future beforehand, and replace pain, frustration and dispiritedness for vigour, achievements and contentment.

    Flight or Fight

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      It would be foolish of me to assume that you have never tried dealing with your sedentary lifestyle before, so I won’t tell you that everything begins with a plan. The biggest problem, after all, is that all of your organization tricks have probably already failed you, and what you need now is encouragement to carry on.

      So, instead of advising you to set up your morning alarm to go off an hour earlier, I’ll remind you of the consequences that await you if you don’t. The terrifying prospect of what my body will feel and look like if I continue choosing Netflix and TV dinners over walks in the rain and oranges was what urged me to make a change, and the same basic fight-or-flight response rests in each and every one of us.

      In the Aftermath

        You’re most certainly already experiencing some of the side-effects of an inactive life. I’ve mentioned only a couple of them before simply because they are the most common. As such, they are simultaneously infallible indicators of a decaying body and mind, and a red alert that keeps warning you to get up and start moving.

        Even though you spend a majority of your time seated – be that at work, where your job is to tirelessly type and click, or at home, where everything you want to do after a whole day of looking up to the screen is look up to the screen a bit more – you somehow cannot get enough rest. You’re constantly tired and sleepy, and you have no idea why. And, worst of all, you have pains in your body and weakness on your mind.

        Well, all that is because the human body was developed through movement, and it starts deteriorating if it doesn’t move. When inactive, it rarely does anything at all – your muscles stop burning fat and your blood runs more slowly, thus clogging the flow to your brain, heart, and limbs. No wonder that the consequences are reduced cognitive functions, brain fog and depression, obesity and diabetes, back pain, varicose veins, swollen ankles and loss of muscle and bone strength.

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        Now that you know all the symptoms you can expect, let me say just one more thing – as estimated by The World Health Organization, a lack of physical activity that the sedentary lifestyle implies is linked to 3.2 million deaths a year. A scary thought indeed.

        Finally, here’s how to shake it off.

        Time Waits for No One

          And, now back to the morning alarm. Whatever phase of your life you’re currently in, you cannot deny that there aren’t more interesting and fulfilling things to do than watching TV. I understand that hard work wears you down, but that was my story too. Sometimes, I would return back home at 8 p.m. and I had zero energy for doing anything else. Still, and it may seem like a phrase, little things are what keeps you running.

          Don’t cut off entertainment, just make it productive. The only movie worth re-watching hundreds of times is The Godfather; instead of wasting your time on mindless TV marathons, pen down a list of films and series that will make you elevated and smarter.

          The more little things you accomplish during the day, the more you will feel like a winner once your head hits the pillow. Don’t be afraid of scheduling dates, family outings and meetings with friends – in fact, once you commit to something, avoiding it will be much harder.

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          Finally, arm yourself with a lot of patience, since not all of your productivity and time management hacks will work right away. You’ll need to stay flexible and optimistic and try to cross off one task more from your to-do list every next day. Consistency takes practise and time, but most of all, it takes good will and determination.

          Running Ahead

            Though time management is still something I’m trying to wrap my head around, physical activity is something I’ve mastered, and the best piece of advice I can give you is to start in medias res – not on Monday, not tomorrow, but right away. That way, you’ll have no time to hesitate, overthink it or, as it usually happens, find an excuse.

            Carefully designed programs are for professionals, and everything you need to begin with is to shed a little sweat. Don’t plan to go out walking, since that rarely happens. Hit YouTube instead, search for 20-minute workout routines and finish one each day. Speaking from personal experience, these energy boosters will take exactly an hour of your day, given that you’ll need to take breathers in between and take a hot shower afterwards, so stop telling yourself that you have no time for exercising.

            And, once three weeks have passed and you don’t see any significant results, remember this – it’s a period of adjusting that your long-time inactive body absolutely needs to go through. In five weeks’ time, the pounds will just start melting away, the compliments will come from every side, your back will no longer hurt, and you’ll be so absolutely hooked on looking and feeling amazing that you will never stop working out again. True story.

            Flip the Coin

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              Unfortunately, the sedentary lifestyle is all about giving up. Once in a blue moon, you feel motivated enough to get all dolled up and grab a couple of drinks with your friends, but mostly, that’s not the case. When given a choice, you almost always walk the line of least resistance. If so, you’ll need to start practicing what I like to call the flip-the-coin routine.

              I won’t tell you to choose what’s better for your health, since God knows that nobody does that all the time, the same way that almost nobody chooses pomegranates over chocolate. If having a hard time resisting temptations – and you certainly do, since that’s another symptom of a sedentary lifestyle – make a game out of it and flip the coin. That way, your decisions will not be entirely yours to take, at least in the beginning.

              I’ve done the same with fast food – each time I felt the need for something sinfully greasy, I’d allow a coin to choose in my stead. The odds were always 50:50 and the juvenile excitement of playing a game would make me feel less guilty once I got to savour the fries, while those cases when the coin decided differently taught me that junk food was actually something I can do without.

              Paradoxically, this game of chance enabled me to regain control over my vices, simply by teaching me to balance them out. A life without simple pleasures is not a pleasurable life, which is why you’ll have to learn exactly when to discipline yourself and when to indulge. Hopefully, this cheatsheet strategy will train you to harmonize self-restraint that a healthy lifestyle imposes and hedonism that your human heart longs for, and empower you to stand behind your choices.

              If anything else, you’ll face your worst enemy and pinpoint its weaknesses. No revolution is possible without self-awakening, so allow yourself to dive deep into what you are and what you want to be before deciding to give in or to stand up and fight it off.

              Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/u/abbykihano/ via pexels.com

              More by this author

              Vladimir Zivanovic

              CMO at MyCity-Web

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              Last Updated on November 12, 2020

              Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

              Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

              If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

              If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

              In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

              What Happens When You’re Too Tired

              If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

              Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

              • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
              • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
              • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
              • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
              • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
              • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
              • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

              Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

              Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

              Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

              1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
              2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
              3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

              The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

              Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

              You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

              Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

              If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

              Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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              Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

              Symptoms of fatigue include:

              • Difficulty concentrating
              • Low stamina
              • Difficulty sleeping
              • Anxiety
              • Low motivation

              These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

              Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

              How Much Sleep Is Enough?

              The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

              Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

              Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

                The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

                If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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                4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                2. Exercising regularly
                3. Using stressbusters
                4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
                • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
                • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

                Living Healthy

                Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

                In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

                As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                1. Unplug

                Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

                Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                2. Unwind

                Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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                3. Get Comfortable

                Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

                This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                Exercise

                Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

                I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

                If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                Attitude

                Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

                But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

                Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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                1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
                2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
                3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
                4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
                5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
                6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

                This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

                Nutrition

                Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

                Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
                3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
                4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
                5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
                7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
                8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
                9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

                Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

                The Bottom Line

                If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

                If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

                Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

                Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
                [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
                [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
                [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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