The view and acceptance of fatigue seem to have changed over time. In medieval times, fatigue was often considered positive; a sign that a person had reached his or her limit and just needed to rest.
More recently, fatigue is considered a state to be avoided. The denial became popular during our industrialization period, a time when we had an endless demand for high-performing “indefatigable” factory workers. By 1900, studies of fatigue were popular; a new science of fatigue called “ergography” reportedly filled scientific journals.
Interest in the subject grew during World War I as the military wanted to boost workers’ energy to increase the production of munitions factories. Later the focus changed from physical to mental fatigue as the military had more mental tasks that required focus and sustained mental alertness, as in piloting airplanes and operating radar.
Moving to the present, an almost universal complaint heard from midlife and older adults is that they don’t have as much energy compared to their younger years.
Find out how to manage fatigue
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