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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown

Janet Aylott

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant


I get extremely fatigued after exercise. Is this normal?

I have always suffered a fair amount of fatigue after excersise, I would say far more than most people, It can be so bad that I often will not be fit for anything the next day. This is not from doing anything special, maybe 30 mins light workout at the gym and the walk there and back.

I also find the same if I say do physical work for more than a couple of hours, say decorating or gardening. I am over weight but not obese and apparently have nothing wrong with me medicaly speaking, in fact the doctor had the cheek to tell me I was probably hyperventilating even though this fatigue is not of the breathless type by any means, just extreme tiredness.

Also I have not just started excersise, I have always done something. I even had this problem 15 years ago when I used to swim a mile a day if I could. Any ideas on this?


Our expert says...

There are many potential factors in the fatigue you experience after exercise/physical activity. As you have had a medical check that hasn't identified any issues, it means there is a strong likelihood that one or some of the following factors are playing a role in your fatigue levels.

Potential factors include:

- your pre/post exercise nutrition

- hydration

- the appropriateness of the level you exercise at

- intermittent commitment to exercise

- the type of exercise

- emotional stress

- amount and quality of sleep

- your breathing techniques while exercising

- your bodyweight

- your current fitness level

- and/or vitamin deficiencies.

As your fatigue patterns appear to be a long-term issue I suggest you conduct a thorough trial and error process to figure out for yourself what factors are the real causes of your fatigue! Firstly, look at your nutrition and hydration, specifically relating to your exercise. Ensure you don't exercise on an empty stomach and that you consume a medium-sized meal 1-2 hours prior to exercise that consists of complex carbohydrate and protein i.e. chicken and rice, tuna pasta bake (minimal cheese!).

Post-exercise nutrition is even more important to ensure you don't suffer for your exercise later so look to take in 100g of fast-absorbing carbohydrate with protein within the first 15mins after exercise!! This 15 min window is when the body's enzymes are at their most effective to ensure effective recovery of the muscles!

Hydration is crucial and if you are even 3% dehydrated your performance and energy levels can be impacted by up to 20%! So ensure you consume approx 2 litres of water a day, especially after exercise and be aware of your stimulant intake. High levels of caffeine intake, i.e. fizzy drinks like coke, tea, coffee or alcohol are all energy zappers and don't promote recovery from exercise!

Assuming your sleep and nutrition is adequate then consider how regular your exercise is and how much you push yourself when you do exercise. You could be in a cycle where because you become fatigued post-exercise, you end up having 2-3 days off, or longer, before you train again. This will mean fitness improvements will be slow and feel like an uphill struggle. You may want to consider trying to exercise at a lesser intensity then you are now, even if you feel like it is a light workout. Your body may be telling you that it actually needs to start off a lot slower and that you are pushing yourself too hard for your current fitness level, bodyweight, stress levels etc.

I would have a fitness professional look at the workout you are doing and ensure it is suitable to your needs and if you have been doing the same thing for a long time, get it changed! Doing the same routine can cause repetitive-exercise fatigue, even though it may feel easy so if you have been doing the same thing for more than 6-8 weeks, change it!

Also, get the fitness professional to check you are breathing properly during your workout, as if you are breathing at the wrong times or holding your breath (is very common and often not realised) this can tire the body out due to inefficient oxygen supply during exercise and can cause fatigue later on.

If your eating patterns are kind of similar on a daily basis then this could be leaving you with potential vitamin deficiencies when you exercise. If you do think your nutrition does lack variety then consider taking a vitamin B supplement on the days you exercise to support the demand on your body.

I don't think you should worry too much about the fatigue you feel after gardening and decorating, as these are very physically demanding and we don't give consideration to how much we are doing. Fitness levels will have an impact but more often than not the majority of us will over do it with these type of leisure activities, regardless of weight or fitness level. So, realistically, prepare to be fatigued after these kinds of activity.

Look to ensure all of the above is where it should be and note how you feel with each change. By listening to your body you should be able to figure out what changes give the biggest improvement in minimising the fatigue you experience. Good luck, finger crossed for you getting fatigue-free post



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