When you’re completely exhausted, whether from a hectic life, a stressful job, or maybe you’re currently in a ‘less than stellar’ state of health (or a bit of all 3), the last thing you want to do is lace up your shoes for a workout. I get it.
Buttttt…. if you’re tired of being tired all the time, you may want to rethink the idea of regularly exercising.
It’s true, exercise is one of the most powerful tools we have for increasing our energy levels and you don’t need to do a lot to reap the benefits.
In fact, a University of Georgia study found that performing just 20 minutes of low intensity exercise could decrease fatigue by up to 65%!
Reality check: a physical activity as simple as walking, yoga or a leisurely bike ride (for only 20 minutes!) can actually do more for your energy than a cup of coffee or an energy drink.
Let’s look at how exercise actually increases energy.
There’s a lot of amazing things going on in your body during a workout session. When you exercise, your body increases its production of serotonin, endorphins and dopamine — all of which are powerful mood boosters. Let me refresh your memory:
- Serotonin (aka – the happy hormone) is best known for creating feelings of happiness and well-being. In addition to our mood, it also helps to regulate our appetite and sleep. And, as if that weren’t enough, it also supports cognitive functions like memory and learning.
- Endorphins are chemicals produced naturally by the nervous system to cope with pain or stress. They are often called “feel-good” chemicals because they can act as a pain reliever and happiness booster. The well-known “runner’s high” that is felt after lengthy, vigorous exercise is due to an increase in endorphin levels.
- Dopamine, in particular, has been found to make us feel more alert and motivated. It can also support memory, attention, and even regulating body movements.
How much exercise is enough?
This is a loaded question and an accurate answer would depend on your specific goals. Are you new to exercise? Trying to lose weight? Training to uplevel your performance?
With that said, it is generally recommended by many healthy lifestyle experts (including myself) that you need to get approximately 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise each week to maintain overall good health.
You’ll know you’re getting the right amount of exercise if you notice your energy levels are increasing.
Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, swimming and mowing the lawn. Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running and aerobic dancing. Strength training can include use of weight machines, your own body weight, resistance tubing or resistance paddles in the water, or activities such as rock climbing.
Reducing sitting time is important, too. The more hours you sit each day, the higher your risk of metabolic problems. Sitting too much can negatively impact your health and longevity, even if you get the recommended amount of daily physical activity.
Short on long chunks of time? Remember, even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can’t fit in a full 30-minute walk during the day, try a few five-minute walks instead. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further from the entrances (if you can do so safely). Any activity is better than none at all. What’s most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.
Can you get too much of a good thing?
Yes, you can get too much of a good thing. Exercising too much can actually have the opposite effect on your energy levels.
If, after increasing your exercise efforts, you’re feeling (still) lethargic or are having difficulty sleeping, there’s a good chance you may be overtraining.
One study looked at the effects of over-exercising. Participants were put through a rigorous physical training regime for 10 days followed by 5 days of active recovery. Not only did participants notice a decrease in performance, they also complained of extreme fatigue and difficulty sleeping.
Often times when people start a new activity they are ‘pumped up’ and jump all in to an extreme degree. My advice is, don’t. Pace yourself. Try different activities until you find the one(s) you like so you will be more motivated to stick with your plan. Start slow and increase your effort over the first few weeks until you find your groove and adjust to the new routine.
Can exercise actually have a negative affect on your energy?
While a regular sweat session is typically a great thing for your body, there are some circumstances where a workout can actually affect your energy in a negative way.
Working out at night can make it very difficult to wind down and get a restful sleep. Experts recommend avoiding vigorous exercise up to 3 hours before bedtime.
For those with especially hectic schedules, this can be a challenge since it may be the only time of day they can fit in a workout.
If that’s the case for you, consider moving your workout to the morning to increase your energy for the whole day. But if you simply can’t, try sticking to a lower intensity nighttime exercise routine so you can wind down when it’s time to sleep.
Just remember, exercise doesn’t have to be “hardcore” in nature nor do you have to spend hours in the gym to see the benefits. The most important thing is to make the time, find the exercise that works for you and stick to a routine based on the above recommendations.
One last thought on maintaining energy and exercise, remember the food you eat also plays a huge role in your energy levels too. In addition to getting regular exercise, it is important that you “fuel” your body with whole, nutritious foods throughout the day to keep your energy levels up and give your body all the support it needs.
Here’s a healthy recipe to help power you up! Energizing Power Balls
Thanks for stopping by.
Be healthy. Be happy.
As the founder of Live Wise Coaching, and a practicing Wellness Coach, Cheryl specializes in supporting women in their 40’s and beyond to reclaim their health and sense of well-being through nutrition, movement, mindset and lifestyle choices so they can live healthy, happy, and more active lives.
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