Beat the Festive Fatigue

24th December 2021

Christmas is all about spreading joy and cheer – celebrating with friends, eating and drinking delicious food, or seeing people you love for the first time this year, are some examples. However, with the festive season comes multiple events, stressful kitchen coordination and financial strain that can be a little hard to manage.

Being time-poor with the overwhelm of Christmas activities can lead to fatigue, which can dampen or restrict us from being as merry as we’d like to be. Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) would like to remind everyone this Christmas that a small amount of daily low-intensity exercise can help boost energy levels in people coping from general fatigue.

In recent years, there is a lot of research that suggests that exercise acts directly on the central nervous system, in turn increasing energy and reducing lethargic tiredness, not due to underlying health conditions.

“It is a bit of a catch 22 – when you feel depleted by fatigue, the last thing you feel like doing is moving your body. But research shows that regular exercise actually increases energy,” explains Anita Hobson-Powell, CEO of ESSA, “…and there are clear physical and mental advantages to it, compared to the usual ‘go-tos’ like caffeine and sugar.”

To give anatomical details, when you exercise, your body produces more mitochondria inside your muscle cells, which is the part that creates fuel out of glucose from the food you eat and oxygen from the air you breathe. Having more mitochondria increases your body’s energy supply.

Exercising also increases your body’s oxygen circulation, which supports the energy production process and allows your body to use this energy more efficiently. This basically means that you need to exercise for your body to produce more of this energy giving ‘battery pack’, because without it you’ll naturally feel exhausted. In addition to helping your body create and use energy, regular exercise promotes better sleep!

Summer and the ‘silly season’ might look a bit different this year, but it is important to still bring opportunities to look after our health over the holidays. Some simple ways to move everyday include:
1) Sit on the floor rather than on a couch/chair and let your body adapt to various positions naturally.
2) Taking short (even just a five minute) walks to break up the day. Set an alarm or download some podcasts if you need a kick-start!
3) Dance! Music can be a great motivator, so throw on a song (preferably Christmas themed) and let yourself move.

Want to take it up a level and integrate or optimise a regular exercise routine as part of your daily movement practice? A great place to start is working with an Accredited Exercise Scientist for guidance on general fitness or an Accredited Exercise Physiologist if you have an existing condition. Not only is it important to move often, but it’s also essential to move well and safely!

Over this busy holiday period, make sure to motivate yourself to move every day, even when you feel truly fatigued, and you’ll be thriving and not merely surviving come Christmas day!

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