When you're feeling tired, you may think another cup of coffee is the answer. But there's a healthier solution that may help spark your energy.
It's called exercise.
Physical activity may be the last thing that comes to mind when you are feeling tired. You may feel you can't work another single thing into your day. But it's one thing to be busy; it's another to be active. Studies show that regular low- to moderate-intensity aerobic activity could be one secret to making you feel more energized.
Do you want to see if exercise can help your energy levels and reduce fatigue? First, check with your doctor. Sometimes a health condition can cause constant or ongoing fatigue. If no medical reason is found for your symptoms and your doctor gives the okay, try exercising for extra energy.
When you feel tired, try doing light exercises with hand weights or simply march in place. You could walk up some stairs, or better yet, get outside if the weather is good. A brisk walk may do wonders when you're feeling tired.
Being active may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and depression. Being active can also help control weight, ease stress and lead to better sleep.
What the guidelines say
The federal physical activity guidelines suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. That may seem like a lot, but it's really only half an hour a day, five days a week. And you don't have to do the half hour all at once.
You can take a brisk 10-minute walk before work, at lunch, and after work, and you've got your 30 minutes for the day. Or you could mow the lawn, jump on your bike to run errands or clean house. The activity should get your heart rate up. As long as you keep moving for at least 10 minutes, it counts as exercise.
Also, try to work in two or more days a week of strength-building exercises that work all the major muscle groups. You don't have to join a gym or own expensive equipment. Start with small dumbbells or a stretchy resistance band.
Short on time? Studies show that 75 minutes of vigorous activity is roughly equivalent to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. But you may need to work up to exercise that is more vigorous over time. You might gradually replace some moderate exercise with intense bursts, such as working in high-energy intervals into your jogging or walking routine.
For even greater health benefits, set a goal of 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. That could be a game of singles tennis or racquetball for 50 minutes three times a week. And 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity could mean one-hour walks five days a week.
Once you get started, exercise could soon become part of your daily routine.
Note: If you are physically inactive or you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy or other symptoms, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe and suitable for you.
Created on 02/09/2011
Updated on 10/28/2013
- American Council on Exercise. Exercise as a cure for fatigue and to boost energy levels.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Physical activity and heart disease I.Q.
- UpToDate. Approach to the adult patient with fatigue.