Understanding your energy

Energy is made in the cells in our body from the food, water and oxygen in our blood and moved around the body by the heart. Every part of our body needs energy to work properly. Our brains need energy to think, our lungs need energy to breathe, and our muscles need energy to walk, climb the stairs and run; we even need energy to eat our meals.

When you have a special heart (a single ventricle heart condition), you can’t make as much energy as your friends because you may have less oxygen in your blood and only one of the two heart pumps needed to move that oxygen around your body.

It is normal for all of us to have less energy as the day goes by. That is why we all feel tired before bedtime, most people understand that. What is harder to explain is why children with a special heart use a lot more energy doing the same day to day activities but can’t make it as fast as their friends. To make that easier to understand we use spoons to explain.

Your friends probably have 20 spoons of energy to use every day. If you have a complicated heart condition, you probably have around half that amount. So, ten spoons of energy to use every day.

It is important to think about where you are going to use your energy every day. Everything you do needs energy: getting dressed in the morning, packing your school bag, walking to school and even concentrating and following instructions. If you have PE, a swimming lesson or an after-school activity, you may need to plan the rest of the day to have enough energy to enjoy the fun.

To help you balance your energy levels Little Hearts Matter has produced an energy timetable and an energy poster so you can try to figure out how much energy your days activities need. If you have a big party coming up you may want to have a quiet morning chilling out so you can save your energy.

Have a look at our LHM Kidz Heart Gang Comic, issue 2, Tillie and Isaac have this exact problem, have a read and see how they handle it. You’ll find it in the downloads section, at the bottom of this page.

Eating a healthy, balanced meal can help to give you some more energy. Making sure you have a good breakfast and eating regularly throughout the day is very important. Keeping fit by regularly exercising, safely for your heart, also helps. Also sleep is very important to make sure you have enough energy. Get an early night before a big day to help give you little bit more energy.

Doing this may help at some points of the day but it may still not be enough for you to do everything you want to do, so using the energy project plan is the best way to manage your day and make sure you have some energy to do the things you want, or need, to do the most.

Towards the end of the day you may feel like you have no spoons of energy left, if this is the case your body may borrow some of your spoons of energy from the next day; this will help at the time but remember this means you will start the next day with fewer spoons. If this is the case make sure you plan your day with the new amount of spoons you wake up with.

Each day will be bring up different challenges and sometimes you will have more energy than the day before but this tool can make sure you, your parents and teachers have a better understanding of your energy levels and why you may get more tired than others.


Downloadable resources to help you understand more about energy.

LHM Kidz Energy timetable – Track your energy levels

Example energy timetable – See how to use the energy tracker

The Half a Heart Gang #2 – Energy themed comic book

Managing your energy with spoons poster