In our fast-paced Western world it’s no surprise fatigue is one of the most common reasons why people visit their doctor. The only surprising thing here may be what the doctor might recommend for it – exercise! That’s right; extensive studies have shown when you’re feeling lethargic and lazy, the best thing you can do is get off the couch. The more you move, the more you’ll want to move, and ultimately, the more energy you will have.
Weird, right? Here’s how it works: It happens on a cellular level and all starts with your body’s tiny builtin power plants called mitochondria. Any biologist will tell you mitochondria is one of the most complex and fascinating subjects they get to study – even from school. Your body cannot produce a single protein or perform any function without the stuff. The optimum functioning of your mitochondria really depends on your routine activity; your sleep patterns, diet, exercise and your basic daily habits. The better they perform, the better you will be able to produce energy in your body. When you begin to exercise, your body will rise up to meet the demand for more energy by calling your mitochondria into action. Think of it like muscle memory; the more you work them, the better they will become at facilitating the energy flow around your body. Every system in your body needs to learn how to work best for you. Sitting at a desk all day means your body is mostly resting and will want to conserve energy. This is why, while your brain might be pretty active, you will still feel tired. You keep telling your body that there’s no reason to move and conserving energy is the best idea. Through consistent exercise, your mitochondria will learn to produce more energy on a regular basis, keeping you going throughout the day.
ENERGY IS ENERGY, RIGHT?
It’s important to note that not all exercise is created equal. Some workouts are better than others in helping you achieve optimum energy-boosting results. There are different types of energy that your body produces and not all of them have the positive effects you’re looking for. Energy has a close relationship with tension and you’ll find two types of energy at play in your body at any time; tense energy and calm energy. You’ll find you perform best when you’re in a calm energy state; a combination of a high physical and mental energy level paired with low tension. Tense energy is a result of stress and pressure and what you likely feel in a typical work week. Tense energy can move into tense tiredness; a negative state often associated with depression. Energising activities like moderate exercise and eating the right food can bring on a state of calm energy. Yoga, meditation and massage, for example, also produce calm energy in the body as a result of reduced tension, pressure and stress.
WORKOUTS THAT WORK
A basic rule is the faster your metabolism, the more energy you will have. There’s impressive evidence that suggests a correlation between resistance training and increased metabolism. Resistance training ranges from the use of stretch bands to intense weightlifting. Your current physical fitness and personal goals will determine which type of resistance training is best for you to try. If you’re a resistance beginner, start with a stretch band three times a week. With resistance bands you work in a full range of motion, so you’ll target muscles you might miss with weights. It’s not a proper workout regimen without cardiovascular exercise. Anything you can do to get your heart racing for a moderate amount of time will go a long way in getting those mitochondria moving. Skipping with a rope is a full-fitness, aerobic energy generating exercise that almost anyone can manage. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, briskly marching around the block; all of these activities will wake up your heart. This last one is less of a workout and more, just…necessary. That’s music; the kind that really connects you to yourself and consumes you with an overwhelming desire to move. Blast your favourite tunes while you exercise or simply play them to dance around to – after all free-form dancing is the best aerobic exercise!
TOP 5 INSTANT ENERGISERS
Get moving: walk at a pace fast enough to increase your heart and breath rates; maybe tackle a few flights of stairs while you are at it.
Breakfast: so many people skip the most important meal of the day – don’t be one of those people.
Simple carbs: snack on apples with peanut butter, hummus with veggies or a fruit smoothie for a boost.
H2O: drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated and your body balanced.
Sit up straight: slouching causes your muscles to exert more energy. Sit up and take deep breaths every so often.
DID YOU KNOW?
You can enhance your performance significantly if you listen to music while working out. Studies have shown that by listening to music you are following an effective dissociation strategy, decreasing the perception of fatigue and effort.