Exploring movement for energy in the human body, Find My Energy website

Movement for Energy

Movement for energy is critical to understand for all of us, and brings certain challenges if you have CFS

In this earlier article, I introduced you to the six basic pillars that create a supportive environment for the human body. Today, I want to explore the movement for energy pillar in a little more depth.

You may be reading this as someone who is basically healthy, but often feels tired and would like to know how to build more energy naturally. Or you may be someone who already has a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In both cases, it is vital to understand how movement can support your body. And, in the case of CFS, there is a little twist to explore as well.

So, let’s begin with the general benefits of ensuring you move your body… And the dangers of not moving it enough.

Exploring Movement for energy

For many years, we have been told that we need to take regular exercise. You know this. You know exercise is good for you. Maybe you have even discovered some of the benefits for yourself. In case you haven’t, here are just a few highlights…

Benefits of movement

  • Improves mood and decreases feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.
  • Helps to attain or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.
  • Boosts energy and reduces feelings of fatigue.
  • Reduces the risk of some chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes 2.
  • Supports skin health and can delay the appearance of skin ageing.
  • Helps brain health and cognitive functioning.
  • Supports relaxation and improves sleep onset and quality.
  • Can help with chronic pain and pain tolerance.
  • Helps to improve sexual desire, function, and performance.
  • Helps to promote movement of the lymphatic system which is involved in detoxing the body.

That list might be enough to inspire you to take some exercise if you aren’t already.

On the other hand, you might be someone who is less motivated by what is good for you and more motivated by trying to avoid what is bad. So, let me give you a few highlights of what could happen if you’re not taking enough exercise…

Dangers of not moving enough

  • Loss of bone mass or density
  • Stiff and painful joints
  • Decrease in muscle mass
  • Changes in posture
  • Reduction in energy and increase in tiredness
  • Loss of stability and balance.

Now, if you want to find out more and even get some ideas of the different types of movement and how to create a balanced exercise plan, this article is a great place to start.

What happens when movement feels impossible?

If you are living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you may be facing a very real block to being able to exercise.

When your body is experiencing Mitochondrial issues, (read about that in this blog post) it is genuinely difficult to exercise. In fact, if your issues are severe and your body is mostly in crash mode, exercise may make things worse. This has certainly been the experience reported by patients who were directed to undertake a Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) approach.

(You can delve deeper by reading this article).

So, where does that leave you?

On the one hand, your body needs movement to source energy. On the other hand, exercise might make your symptoms feel worse.

A sobering fact…

I don’t mean to depress you, but this article has some rather sobering facts about what happens when you stay in bed.

Yes, the research has been carried out on (presumably) basically healthy people. And no, I haven’t validated the assertions made here.

However, it is sobering to think that within a week of staying in bed you could be losing 1% of your bone density. Within two weeks you can lose 10% of your muscle mass. Within six months to a year, your bones and muscles can deteriorate to the point of being unable to bear your own body weight.

I have seen people with severe CFS who are physically unable to sit or stand. Not just that they “don’t want to”, but you can see their skeleton is no longer capable of weight bearing.

With that in mind, I understand why some doctors and researchers have looked at CFS patients and told them they need to exercise. It is easy to make the assumption that the loss of ability to sit, stand or walk has come solely from lying in bed. In other words, from laziness or hypochondria.

As someone who has experienced CFS, I know that it is not that simple. I know how much willpower it took me to keep moving. I know how much willpower the average CFS patient possesses. It is no wonder it feels so terrible to be told you are “just being lazy”.

Is there a solution?

Yes, I believe there is. Pacing. This is very different to exercising. And this is also why I’ve been focusing on the idea of movement for energy.

It is possible to find a level of movement that is going to stave off the worst physical atrophy AND also avoid creating further mitochondrial damage.

The difficulty is, neither I, nor anyone else can specifically say what that looks like for you. That is where the GET created problems. It tried to set up a system based on persuading patients to conform to a model set by someone else. In my opinion, it didn’t take into consideration the mitochondrial issues, which are very real. And, again, in my opinion, this system invalidates the patient.

Any patient who protests and claims to know what their body is feeling or experiencing runs the risk of being told they are weak-willed or lazy. In my experience, this can also layer on top of multiple other experiences of invalidation and create further emotional damage for the patient. But that is another layer to explore in another blog post!

I have just suggested that using movement for energy lies in pacing. And if you’re not sure what that is, or how to go about it, then start by clicking on this link to request your free ebook about pacing.

A note on Hormesis

I briefly want to mention one other scientific term that plays into the exploration of movement for energy. This applies equally to anyone who is already healthy and anyone living with CFS.

Your body grows and develops through something called Hormesis. This is basically the idea that stretching (or maybe stressing) your cells just a little, in a carefully measured way, induces them to find new strength and energy.

Think about going to the gym, or working with a personal trainer. In these cases, you start by establishing what you are able to do right now. But your routine then builds on that gradually. So, you will find yourself doing just a little more than what feels “comfortable”. It may require a certain effort of will to make yourself do this, rather than giving in because “it hurts”.

Over time, and with consistent practice, the thing that felt so challenging becomes easy. You then build in the next development and grow that way.

However, it is very important to find a level of “stress” that is healthy and sustainable. If you try to push yourself too hard, you can end up doing damage. This could be something like tearing a muscle. Or, in the case of CFS, stressing your Mitochondria so that they end up shutting down further.

What’s the solution?

So, you are looking for the “sweet spot” in the middle. A spot where things feel difficult, but you aren’t doing long-term damage.

I found it helpful to focus on recovery time, rather than the difficulty of doing the exercise itself. It is a given that increasing your movement is going to feel hard at the time. But how long does it take you to recover afterwards? Do you end up with delayed fatigue? Those could be signs that you are over-stressing your body, rather than working within the healthy parameters of hormesis.

Beneficial Movement for Energy

Depending on your age, health, level of energy, and other factors, you have a huge choice of movement.

In its most basic form, movement for energy is as simple as walking to the bathroom, or fetching yourself a glass of water.

When I was severely ill, those simple movements did push me to my limits, well beyond what felt “comfortable”, but not to the point of causing further damage. So, even though this felt challenging, I made a point of ensuring I got out of bed to fetch myself a drink, as often as I could, rather than asking someone else to fetch it for me.

As I gradually healed and my body’s ability to produce more energy improved, I found myself able to increase both the amount and type of movement.

As this happens, focus on the type of movement you are doing.

One of my friends once asked me about the claim that yoga can cure CFS. For sure, yoga is a very powerful form of movement. It comes with all sorts of benefits and would be a great exercise for anyone who desires to explore movement for energy.

But a “cure”? Well, let’s explore that in another blog post, which you can find at this link.

For now, I hope this has inspired you to understand how movement for energy can help anyone experiencing fatigue. If your fatigue is extreme, then focus on understanding both the need for movement and the need to support your Mitochondria. Find that sweet spot that supports both sides of the coin…pacing!


Learn how to pace to support your body