Despite what you may have heard, fatigue is not inevitable as you get older. While you may not have quite the energy you did when you were younger, there's no reason for you to go crawl through your days just because you've passed your 40th (or 50th or 60th) birthday. Below, some common reasons people feel tired as they age, and what you can do about them:

  • Sluggish thyroid. Have you had your thyroid checked lately? Disorders of the thyroid gland, which controls metabolism, are not uncommon, and are especially prevalent among women middle-aged and older. Having a slow thyroid is known as hypothyroidism, and millions suffer from this condition, which causes a host of symptoms including fatigue, weight gain, depression, constipation, and dry skin. The best treatment? A synthetic thyroid hormone pill, taken once a day.
  • Heart disease. Heart disease doesn't always manifest itself as pain or discomfort in the heart area. People with heart disease may suffer a host of symptoms, among them fatigue. Why is this? When the heart has difficulty pumping enough blood through the body, there isn't sufficient blood for the muscles and limbs to function normally. A person with heart disease may feel exhausted performing simple functions like shopping and cooking. See your cardiologist if fatigue is a persistent problem for you.
  • Sleep apnea. If your throat muscles relax to the point that they obstruct your airway while you sleep, you may have a condition known as sleep apnea. Sufferers of sleep apnea can stop breathing briefly as many as hundreds of times per night, causing extreme daytime fatigue that can interfere with normal activities. If you've been told you snore or stop breathing during the night, see your physician as soon as possible. Treatments include losing weight, using a mask-like device that helps keep your airway open as you sleep, and even throat surgery.
  • Poor nutrition. It's true-you are what you eat. And the older you get, the more important it is to eat well in order to live to the fullest. If your diet isn't up to par, you could be setting yourself up for unnecessary exhaustion. How to make every bite count? First, eat breakfast every day. Whole-grain toast, whole-grain cereal, skim milk, and fruit are a great way to start the morning. For the rest of your day, concentrate on eating plenty of lean protein such as chicken, fish, or lean beef, low-fat dairy such as yogurt and cheese, small amounts of nuts and seeds, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Keep fried, fatty, and sugary treats to a minimum.
  • Lack of exercise. While you might think that exercise would cause fatigue, research shows that the opposite actually is true, especially if you dial down the intensity of your workout. A brisk walk with some hills is a good activity, as is going for a bike ride or swimming laps. Exercising enough to get your heart rate up somewhat but not pounding is the key.


University of Georgia,

The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability,

American Heart Association,

American Thyroid Association,

Mayo Clinic,