The 4 P’s of Energy Conservation
Laura Johnson, PT, DPT
Has it been exhausting for you to complete your typical morning routine, or maybe you are having shortness of breath while grocery shopping? When individuals have a diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), or Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), or are recovering from a recent illness or surgery, it can be difficult to complete daily chores due to fatigue and decreased activity tolerance. Your lungs and heart may not be working as efficiently as they should, so it is important to conserve energy throughout the day.
In order to succeed, there are 4 simple steps to consider, and we are going to refer to these as the 4 P’s of Energy Conservation
1. PRIORITIZE: Decide what needs to be done today, and what can wait for a later date. Try to scatter your household chores throughout the week. One day for laundry, next day for vacuuming and another day for grocery shopping. If you are partaking in a social engagement, plan to skip some daily activities to reserve some energy before the fun begins! A good quality rest period each day is best!
2. PLAN: Plan ahead to avoid extra trips. Gather supplies and equipment needed before starting an activity. For example, before showering, make sure your towel, clothes and necessary daily items are all located in the bathroom area. Also have a chair available to provide yourself a seated rest break if needed. Another technique is to plan to alternate heavy and light tasks. Find a good balance between work, rest and leisure.
3. PACE: Slow and steady pace, never rushing! Some individuals try to complete as many tasks as possible, as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this leads to complete exhaustion, and inability to perform tasks later in the day. This can also lead to a greater chance of falls due to increased fatigue: We all know a fall can be extremely traumatic. Plan to rest before you feel tired. Provide yourself with enough time to take short, frequent rest breaks.
4. POSITION: Think about your body position while completing tasks throughout the day. Bending and reaching can cause fatigue and shortness of breath. There is adaptive equipment available to make some daily tasks less stressful on your body. Examples are: 1) Use a reacher to grasp the cleaning supplies in the low cupboard, 2) Use elastic shoe laces to avoid bending over to tie your shoes, or 3) Use a sock aid to get your socks or compression stockings on. Eliminating some strain when bending or reaching will allow your lungs to expand more fully, which in turn helps get more oxygen into the body.
Conserving your energy can allow you to complete the tasks you want to complete throughout the day. You do not want to run out of energy before the day is through and we definitely do not want you to entirely stop your activity for constant rest. Get moving, but move smarter!