Boosting Energy & Managing Fatigue Archive

Articles

Unmasking the varied causes of breathlessness and fatigue

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) can help diagnose unusual causes of breathlessness, such as pulmonary hypertension or heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. CPET collects information about a person’s heart and lung function to assess how the body responds to exercise. It may also help doctors better understand the lingering fatigue and breathlessness that sometimes occur after a COVID-19 infection.

When should you worry about fatigue?

On call


 Image: © thodonal/Getty Images

Q. I have been quite fatigued over the past two weeks. How long should I wait before seeing a doctor?

A. We all go through periods of low energy. Even a week of feeling more tired than usual is not uncommon.

4 ways to boost your energy naturally with breakfast

Healthful protein, slowly digested carbohydrates, fruit or vegetables serve up best morning mix

As you sleep, your body is hard at work digesting yesterday's dinner. By the time you wake up, your body and brain are demanding fresh fuel. "Breaking the fast" is a key way to power up in the morning. Do it right and the benefits can last all day.

If you miss the day's first meal, notes Dr. David S. Ludwig, a nutrition expert at Harvard-affiliated Children's Hospital Boston, you may start off with an energy deficit and have to tap into your energy reserves.

Alcohol and fatigue

Sedative effects of drinking can also initiate other physical responses in the body


Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Thinkstock

Many people think that a little nightcap will help them sleep soundly through the night. Although alcohol's sedative effects can make you drowsy, they also have other effects that can interfere with quality sleep.

Several hours after that nightcap, the alcohol raises the body's level of epinephrine, a stress hormone that increases the heart rate and generally stimulates the body, which can result in nighttime awakenings. Indeed, alcohol may account for 10% of cases of persistent insomnia. Alcohol also relaxes throat muscles, and this relaxation can worsen sleep-related breathing problems and contribute to sleep apnea. What's more, alcohol may increase the need to urinate during the night — just another way in which it can disrupt sleep.

A leg up on peripheral artery disease

The condition causes leg pain and fatigue that make activity difficult, but lifestyle changes can improve how you feel.

The occasional leg pain or stiffness is often not cause for concern, but if pain or fatigue develops after just a few minutes of walking or climbing stairs, it could be an early sign of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

"PAD not only interferes with an active lifestyle, but also can put you at higher risk for a heart attack and stroke," says Dr. Michael Belkin, chief of the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. "You can't cure PAD once it occurs, so you want to take measures to avoid it as much as possible."

Look out for Lyme

Here's how to protect yourself from this growing tick-borne disease.

Summer is the ideal time to enjoy the outdoors, but while you're interacting with nature, you need to look out for ticks that carry Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease in the United States.

About 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, according to the CDC, and new research suggests that number will rise by 20% by mid-century.

Yoga for chronic fatigue syndrome

There are many types of yoga. One of the most popular forms practiced in the United States is known as hatha yoga, a style that focuses on maintaining specific poses. What sets yoga apart from most other exercise programs is that it places as great an emphasis on mental fitness as on physical fitness, what's known as the mind-body connection.

Studies suggest that yoga has benefits for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, low back pain, and many other types of chronic pain conditions. It can also improve mood, which can be helpful to people with CFS who are depressed.

Drink for energy?

As a stimulant, caffeine can definitely increase your energy level. Did you know it can decrease it, too? It all depends on how sensitive you are to caffeine, and when and how much you consume.

Caffeine does help increase alertness, so having a cup of coffee before going to a meeting or starting on a project can help sharpen your mind. What about energy drinks? While increasingly popular, there's really no magic formula here. What gives these drinks their jolt is good old-fashioned caffeine. Caffeine content varies widely among energy drinks. Many contain as much or more caffeine as a cup of coffee, along with loads of sugar.

4 simple ways to boost your energy

Do you sometimes feel like the Energizer Bunny when his battery runs low? You might start the day strong, but by midafternoon, you can't quite keep going and going.

Fatigue afflicts everyone at one time or another. Assuming your doctor has ruled out serious medical causes, there are a few basic steps you can take to "recharge your batteries."

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