Hi, I’m Matt Tillotson, and this is Matt’s Mix Tape. My midlife is a new mix these days. And so is this newsletter.
Fitness and fatigue
I have one and only one fitness superpower: showing up.
I’m not the most knowledgable or efficient. Not the fastest or strongest. But I’ll be there.
When people’s schedules get overwhelming, fitness is one of the first things to go. Which I understand. When you’re tired, a workout seems extra unappealing.
Right now, my work days are long and intense. And for reasons I won’t go into here, I’m not often getting great stretches of uninterrupted sleep at night, either.
Yet I don’t feel overly exhausted or unable to focus.
It’s got to be the workouts:
6-8 mile slow runs, 4 days a week
Strength training, 3 days a week
Exercise is an inadequate substitute for rest over the long run. But I think it’s saving me right now. Maybe it get you through tough stretches, also.
Why might exercise help sustain you when your sleep is poor?
Exercise improves the quality of sleep you do get, for one.
Not only does regular exercise control your weight and improve your mental health, but just 10 minutes of daily aerobic exercise enhances your sleep length and quality, reduces sleep onset latency, and minimizes your risk of developing sleep disorders.
Exercise raises energy levels.
To begin with, cellular-level changes occur inside your body when you exercise. Exertion spurs your body to produce more mitochondria inside your muscle cells. Mitochondria are known as the powerhouses of cells, because they create fuel out of glucose from the food you eat and oxygen from the air you breathe. Having more of them increases your body’s energy supply.
Exercising also boosts oxygen circulation inside your body. This increase in oxygen not only supports the mitochondria’s energy production, it allows your body to function better and to use its energy more efficiently. Plus, your body gets a boost from an exercise-induced increase in hormone levels that makes you feel more energized.
Exercise improves memory and thinking.
Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in volume in people who exercise than in people who don't. "Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions," says Dr. McGinnis.
Finally—and personally—topping off a workout provides momentum that carries me through other tasks throughout the day.
“I powered through strength training at 6AM. I can definitely grind through this late-night debrief session.”
I don’t care how packed my schedule is. Workouts are non-negotiable. Not because I’m some bad ass. Because I know sticking to that schedule is a cheat code to help overcome lack of sleep and long work hours—over a short horizon.
In the long run, balance and rest are required for good health. But in the short run, when your schedule is wild, anchor your workouts in and stick with it. It just might help you power through.
Thank you for reading!
Hello to 30 new subscribers this week.
Whatever you’re working on or working through: keep showing up.
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I love this, Matt! And I am going for a run now!
Solid. Really solid. Well said friend.