There are few better ways to increase energy and muscle functionality than exercise. One study found that inactive folks who normally complained of fatigue could increase energy by 20% while decreasing fatigue by as much as 65% just by participating in regular, low-intensity exercise.
“Contrary to popular belief, exercising doesn’t make you tired,” says nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS RD. “It literally creates energy in your body. Your body rises up to meet the challenge for more energy by becoming stronger.” Much like stretching, exercise causes muscles to work overtime, generating kinetic and elastic energy that is used and stored, revitalizing the body. But not all of us have time to exercise and if you do have some time – where should you start?
CARDIO: GO FOR A WALK
Going for a walk when you’re tired may even be a more effective energy boost than a whole cup of coffee. Walking increases blood circulation, sending oxygen flowing throughout the body. It also increases levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, three natural hormones that elevate energy levels.
Walking can offer numerous health benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels, and also can prevent diseases and prolong your life. Walking at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease significantly, and your risk reduces the more you walk. It can also help protect the joints and boost immune function, which allow the body to divert energy from those areas. Whether you take the stairs or park your car just a bit further from your office door, try adding small increments of walking to your day.
This exercise increases blood flow to the very core of the body. To do wall angels, stand with your back against a wall and raise your arms parallel to the floor. Keeping your arms and back against the wall, rotate your arms upward as far as you can, and then bring them back down to the starting position. Repeat as many times as you can in the 10 minute duration of the exercise.
THREE-WAY HIP EXERCISES
Recommended by Lesley Hlad, a doctor of physical therapy in the arthritis rehabilitation service at Duke University’s Center for Living in Durham, these exercises are particularly helpful for rejuvenating the hip muscles, which are essential for almost any all-body movements.
First, face and hold onto an elevated surface like a kitchen sink. Alternate raising each knee up, like you’re marching in place. Next, alternate raising each leg to the side, working the outer thighs and glutes. Finally, alternate extending a leg out behind you until it’s a few inches off the ground. These three steps work out the entirety of the muscle groups of the legs, promoting vasodilation and blood flow throughout the body, allowing free oxygenation and boosting energy.