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June 6, 2017

Easy Ways to Boost Your Energy

by John Hastings

As temperatures climb, the urge to do, well, anything, can take a nosedive. How to boost your energy to get more done -- or to have more fun? There are unrealized sources of pep at your disposal, says Stacy Yearwood, MD, chair of the department of psychiatry at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream. “People don’t realize that lying around and not doing much won’t actually help you recharge,” she says. “You need to be active to gain more energy.” Here are some of her favorite ways to power up and leave the summer doldrums behind.

Lace up your walking shoes. When you’re feeling fatigued, chances are you don’t have much interest in exercise. But it’s worth pushing yourself to get up out of your chair, says Dr. Yearwood, because research shows that regularly working out is a great way to boost your energy level. “More exercise equals better fitness, and that means more energy,” she says. No need to sign up for a marathon or other high-intensity regimen; walking seems uniquely suited to boosting your reserves. A study at the University of Georgia found that for people who were sedentary, regular, low-intensity activity increased energy levels by 20 percent while reducing feelings of fatigue by 65 percent.

Give yourself some mental space. Feeling worried or anxious will wear you down in a hurry, Dr. Yearwood says. Her prescription: Try some quiet moves in the morning to feel recharged for the rest of the day. Yoga, Pilates or tai chi all offer meditative yet invigorating exercise. Want something even more calming? Try breathing exercises, such as inhaling deeply and then releasing your breath slowly for a count of five. Setting aside just a couple of minutes a day for that kind of active relaxation can reduce stress and leave you feeling recharged.

Exercise with a friend. “We’re social creatures, and we get energy from our interactions with others,” says Dr. Yearwood. Call up a buddy to join you in a walk, trip to the gym or exercise class. Building social connections boosts feelings of well-being. What’s more, you’re more likely to follow through on your exercise intentions when you know a work-out companion is waiting for you.

Hoist a couple. No, we’re not talking about cocktails. Research suggests that lifting weights can raise your mood by easing anxiety, that major energy drain. There’s no need to heft the heavy stuff. In one study, the biggest mood boost for beginners came from higher reps of lighter weights.

Duck out of work. You probably have a never-ending list of projects at the office, but that’s all the more reason to book yourself some breaks. Making a lunch-time walk a regular part of your schedule is a good way to maintain your energy throughout the afternoon, says Dr. Yearwood. Regularly getting out for a little mid-day exercise can increase your stamina and make you more productive. Not only can that cut your work challenges down to size, she says -- it may leave you fueled for a little more fun in your off hours.