a hand pulling on a shoe over a thin sock

Energy Conservation

Last updated: October 2022

As fall is here and we start having to think about bending over and putting shoes on (sandals no longer count), putting heavy coats on, etc., it has made me think about energy conservation overall. Basically, are there ways to do the same activities that involve less energy and minimize muscle fatigue?

If you are in cardiac rehab, the concept of energy conservation is one of the topics that gets covered. For instance, one takeaway I remember is the curse of "just one more little thing." In other words, when we had a greater bandwidth or energy activities did not drain us as they do now, we could do that last "one little thing."

However, now we have a limited and finite supply of energy, and we have to use it accordingly. If we use it all up before we have accomplished what we need to do then we are out of luck! Plan your day and stick to it; that "one last little thing" is something to now consider as it takes away energy that was planned for something else.

Energy conservation is important in our heart failure journey

As you get farther and farther down the journey of heart failure I think you realize that it's no joke! Any way that you can save a little energy throughout the day is great. Here are a few ways I have thought of to save energy over the years. This is not a comprehensive list, just a few things I have stumbled across over the years.

  1. Shoes are a big one. Bending over to put on and tie shoes every day is tough. I have come to love ballet slipper-type shoes, and even in the fall, you can get thin socks that allow you to continue wearing them for longer. Anything that is slip on, slip off, is terrific.
  2. Gone are the days that you can leave the house with wet hair - so so sad. So, when it comes to bathroom routines, anything that allows you to sit is a huge plus. Try to sit while you are drying your hair. Even if you cannot sit on the toilet and have to bring a chair into the bathroom, go for it. Speaking of sitting, consider a shower chair that allows you to sit in the shower too.
  3. Bending and reaching often leave me out of breath. Just a few simple ideas are to try and sit down while you are getting ready, especially if the days of throwing a dress on and leaving are out. Unfortunately, for us ladies, it seems to be pants always. So, consider sitting down as you put your pants on. This means that if you have to adjust the ankles you are not bending down to do it, assuming that you have the flexibility to draw your knees closer to you. Also, try to get your lower half dressed first as this is often harder. It involves more pulling than sliding a sweater over your head.
  4. This is unrelated to the weather and dressing, but something I've thought of as related to kitchen stuff and food prep. As I said, for a lot of us bending over and lifting is tough. I try to use the dishwasher whenever I can and minimize what is on the lower shelf if my partner isn't in the mood to help. Does it mean that I run the dishwasher more often? Yup! Do I care? I do, but the reality is that my energy is needed elsewhere so I don't have other options.
  5. This is also something I've said before but it bears repeating - my partner and I try to cook in bulk when we can. Since getting take out or eating out is no longer an option on a regular basis, the more we can use leftovers to decrease energy usage (so we are not preparing food constantly) the better. Does it mean that we eat the same meal over and over? Unfortunately, yes. However, as my partner says if it makes me healthy then we have to focus on the larger goal sometimes.

What are your tips?

Do you have any tips for energy conservation that you've used in your heart failure journey? Share any other tips you might have in the comments, or share your story by clicking the button below!

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