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Exercise and Fitness

Overworked body

02/28/2006

Question:

Hello. I am a 42 year old female. I am 5`6" and weigh 145 lbs. Approximately six months ago, I started work in a manufacturing plant. I have always been very energetic and a hard worker by nature. I am lifting and loading 13lb. cylinders about every 15 secs for 8 hours a night (3rd shift) with only 2 twenty minute breaks. Not enough time to eat a meal during these breaks due to the long walk to the cafeteria and a stop by the restroom. Usually just a coke and maybe a quick snack. I dropped 45 lbs in 3 months and have built amazing muscles for a female. No complaints on the look of my body now, however, for the past 3 months I have been continuously TIRED. I feel as though I can barely function outside of work. I get from 5 - 8 hours of sleep a day, depending on the 3 children`s afternoon school activities. Last week, I gave my notice to the company. It is just too much! And too dangerous driving home in the exhausted state I stay in most of the time. On the weekends, I normally sleep about 7 or more hours on Friday. Sleep another full 7+ hours Friday night. Have a 2 - 4 hour nap Sat. Sleep another full 7 - 10 hours Saturday night with a yet another 2 - 4 hour nap Sunday and still don`t feel quite rested to go at it again for another week. I am a light sleeper and before this job, I regularly slept 5 - 8 hours a night with rarely a nap during the day and I felt fine. Now, my question: How long and how much rest does it take for the body to recover from being this over-worked and over-stressed? I would really like to keep the weight down and the muscle build with a more appropriate exercise program but right now, I feel as though I could hibernate for the winter! Could you also give some tips on how to ease into a reasonable program of excercise to stay in shape but also allow my body the needed rest to recover? Thanks.

Answer:

Dear hard working 42 year old female,

Thanks for your question. It appears that you have been working very hard with less then an adequate diet, and proper sleep. As a result it is possible your body is sending you this message of fatigue. However, it is best that you consult with your doctor who can best confirm the cause of this symptom. Also, I would inform your physician that you are interested in beginning an exercise program and get their blessing prior to commencing any fitness program.

Once you have been released to begin an exercise program I recommend you follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for exercise testing and prescription.

"An exercise program needs to be well rounded, taking into consideration cardiovascular fitness, strength training, and flexibility. Each component of a fitness program has its own recommendations to follow for frequency, intensity, duration, and mode of activity."

"The American College of Sports Medicine makes the following recommendations for an exercise program for a healthy adult to develop and maintain cardiovascular fitness, strength training and flexibility. It is recommended that you check with your personal physician before starting any exercise program."

"The following guidelines will be very helpful to you in your adventure into exercise! Remember to ease yourself into a routine so you can and will stick to it."

Cardiovascular Training

It is important to increase the amount of time and intensity of your exercise gradually. When beginning an exercise program, 5-10 minutes of activity may be all you can do.

Resistance Training

Flexibility

Flexibility exercises (stretching) should be included with every exercise session. Before stretching, warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cycling, walking, rowing, etc. Each stretch should be held for 15-30 seconds and repeated 2-4 times, alternating sides.

DO NOT stretch to the point of pain.

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Response by:

David   Carroll David Carroll
Fitness Instructor
Fitness Center at CARE\Crawley
University of Cincinnati