When you are exhausted, the last thing you are probably thinking about is heading to the gym, going for a hike, or strapping on your shoes and going for a jog.
Instead, you probably just want to lay on the couch and binge your favorite show or take a nap. Ironically, this avoidance of physical activity might well be the very reason you feel so tired, to begin with.
How exercise helps your energy levels
When you engage in aerobic exercise, the oxygen you intake floods your system. This encourages your metabolism to take the calories you consume and turn them into fuel for the muscles that are being used.
The increased respiration and need for energy forces the mitochondria in your muscle cells to grow and reproduce on a cellular level. As they generate the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that fuels your body, they also generate energy that you store for the future.
Additionally, exercise increases oxygen inside your body, allowing your muscles to use the ATP more efficiently, and hormones such as endorphins also contribute to a general feeling of well-being and reduce feelings of exhaustion. While rest is certainly needed, exercise can help you restore lost energy levels.
Daily exercises to boost energy
Fighting fatigue and the depleting effects of stress can be accomplished with a regular regimen of simple, moderate movement and exercise, such as the following:
- Walking- perhaps the best way to make sure your body uses oxygen and energy efficiently is to walk. Going for a brief walk, even ten to fifteen minutes can put your heart and lungs into a low to moderate training range. Depending on your current state of fitness and your metabolism, this range of exercise will vary from person to person, so practice with distance and time until you find the best fit for you.
- “Calm energy” regimens- engaging in deliberate strength and breathing training, such as yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, or other low-impact exercise programs, can have multiple benefits, including a higher energy level due to a lower stress level. All of these approaches can increase mindfulness, which reduces stress-related fatigue as well.
- Dance- any type of rhythmic movement, be it jazzercise, Zumba, or even riding a stationary bike can be a wonderful way to get an aerobic workout while increasing dopamine production and endorphins which lower stress.
- Simple stretching- training that increases mobility, flexibility, and strength has the added benefit of giving you more energy throughout the day. Rather than sitting at the computer for hours on end, get up and do some simple stretches, such as crunch exercises with a roller, knee bends, or shoulder stretches. The resistance and oxygen will cause your cells to go to work, and the energy you don’t use will be stored for a later time.
Regardless of the type of exercise you engage in, as long as you are not pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion, the oxygen intake and energy production will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.