If daily fatigue drags you down without there being a medical reason, you may be surprised to learn how a few simple lifestyle changes can boost your energy. Incorporate a few of the following 15 ways and see for yourself how these changes can easily boost your health.
- Manage Stress Better
Everyone knows that emotional and physical stress sap your energy. And while controlled stress isn’t a negative, too much stress can make you sick. Bodies under stress pump out hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Also called the “fight and flight” or “stress” hormones, they serve the physiological purpose of preparing the body for an emergency. High levels of cortisol, however, are associated with multiple health risks: They promote the development of visceral fat or internal belly fat; cannibalize muscle protein; and can shrink the hippocampus, an important part of the brain needed for memory and thinking. Mind-body exercises, such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi, a walk by the beach or in the woods, have all shown to be excellent stress-relievers. Even deep breathing exercises can do wonders for quick relief when stress levels run high.
- Sexual Activity
Good sex isn’t just fun, but offers multiple health benefits. Researchers from Scotland found that sex can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Having sex once or twice a week has been linked to higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which protects against colds and other infections. Sex may not be the best exercise to shed off extra pounds—30 minutes of sex only burns about 85 calories—but it can certainly enhance your mood and boost energy levels.
- Get a Massage
A massage not only helps melt stress away. It can do wonders for overworked muscles and a tired mind. Whether a massage is part of a girl’s spa day, a couple’s treat or precious time devoted to yourself, a massage makes for a great gift to your mental and physical health and that of loved ones.
Even a brief bout of exercise (as little as 10 minutes) can bolster your energy and heighten your mood. Performed regularly and combined with healthy eating, exercise is a sure recipe for a healthier, happier lifestyle. Aerobic workouts, such as swimming, biking and running will make your heart stronger and allow it to pump more oxygen to your body; regular strength-training will make your body leaner and more toned while providing the strength needed to perform everyday activities, such as lifting your children, carrying groceries and luggage, etc.; Yoga, Pilates and other mind-body exercises not only enhance your flexibility and balance, but help calm your busy mind. It’s never too late to start exercising. To achieve health benefits, the government recommends that adults perform at least 2.5 hours of weekly moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, and twice weekly muscle-strengthening activities. More exercise will lead to even greater health benefits. New exercisers should consult their physicians first.
- Eating Right Starts With Breakfast
You’ve probably heard it before: A healthy breakfast is the most important meal of the day and for good reason. You wouldn’t embark on an eight-hour drive with an empty tank of gas. Similarly, coming out of an overnight fast, your body’s energy reserves are low. Given that your energy levels tend to peak between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., it is critical to start the day with a healthy breakfast: Oatmeal and fruit; a healthy, low-caloric cereal; or light breakfast sandwich are all great choices. If you’re an early riser, why not get a workout in before work to boost your energy? Morning exercisers may want to eat a light snack an hour before their workouts for energy and a healthy breakfast within the first hour post-exercise to prevent afternoon fatigue. Non-breakfast eaters not only risk feeling sluggish all morning, but are prone to binge-eating at lunch and constant snacking throughout the day, because they put their bodies into starvation mode.
- Avoid Eating Big Meals Throughout the Day
If you’re subscribing to the adage of eating three big meals a day, you may be surprised how eating smaller, but more frequent meals throughout the day can make you healthier. Researchers have found that eating smaller portions and healthy snacks help stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day, which is critical for mental performance and mood and can help you maintain your energy levels.
- Take Naps
If you haven’t tried it, you’d be amazed what a 10-15-minute “power nap” can do for extra energy. For a quick energy surge, put your head down, close your eyes, or better yet, cup your hands to cover your eyes, while napping.
The lack of a good night’s sleep can ruin an entire day. Researchers recommend that most people need 7-8 hours of sleep to be fully rested. Insufficient sleep, or less than six hours a day, can be detrimental to your health and productivity.
- Body Clock
Most people spend their days feeling energized during the mid-morning up to lunch, wanting a siesta during the mid-afternoon, and getting a second surge of energy later in the day. So why not use your natural rhythm to make the biggest gains: Schedule important meetings early, make time for exercise when you’re energized or need a boost, and eat healthy snacks. If you’re a morning person, hitting the gym or going for an early morning run may be just what the doctor ordered for starting your day off right. Night owls may sleep in later, but should still make time for exercise later. Keep in mind that a workout too close to your bedtime and eating late may interfere with your sleeping, so work with your natural rhythm.
- Energy Drinks
Energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Monster, may be all the rage for a quick energy burst, but could potentially cause health problems. Since these products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is no guarantee that they are safe and beneficial. In some people these stimulants can cause heart palpitations, elevated blood pressure and muscle tremors. It’s a wise practice to consult your doctor before using any stimulants to boost your energy.
- Get Your Fluids
Not drinking enough? Dehydration can make you feel sluggish throughout the day. Drinking roughly half of your body weight in ounces of fluid per day (e.g., drink 75 ounces of fluid if you weight 150 pounds) is critical to your energy levels and good health. Water is generally the ideal fluid choice (even for exercise unless your workouts are intense and/or longer than one hour). Don’t like the “taste” of water? Then you may consider drinking flavored waters or sports drink. Yet, be aware that added flavor may come at the expense of extra calories.
- Listening to Your Favorite Tunes
Music evokes various thoughts, feelings, and moods. It’s no accident that many athletes plug in the tunes prior to a competition to get aroused or focus, depending on their individual goals and needs. So if you’re in a bad mood, playing a favorite tune may be all you need to lift your spirits.
- Wearing Bright Colors
While a little black dress can make women feel sexy and powerful, psychologists have long found great meaning behind all hues. For instance, while the color red attracts attention, stimulates breathing and a faster heartbeat, it can hurt you during negotiations and confrontations. Blue can be cold and depressing, but also sends soothing messages to your body. Wondering why hospital halls are painted green? Green has shown to be soothing to patients. Yellow may help speed up your metabolism and enhance concentration, but scientists believe that yellow can also make you lose your temper quicker. Purple connotes royalty, wealth and sophistication, but can also appear artificial. Brown is the color of earth, but can also make you sad.
Which color will brighten your mood today?
- Get Organized
Being unorganized not only creates unnecessary stress in your life, but can quickly drain your physical and mental energy levels. Prioritizing tasks, keeping a daily planner for appointments, and organizing your work space, all save you the headache of trying to remember every detail while creating precious free time for fun activities.
Have fun. Laughing, playing around, and enjoying time with friends and loved ones can all brighten your day. Find whatever fun activity lifts your spirits, brings joy to your life. Do it often. A happy life will lead to a sound mind and a sound body.
Marion Webb is the managing editor for the American Council on Exercise and an ACE-certified Personal Trainer. For specific fitness-related story ideas or comments, please e-mail her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.