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Exhausted? Easy ways to get energized

Karen Hawthorne is a health and lifestyle writer and producer in Toronto, Canada. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications including Glow, Homemakers, BestHealthMag.ca and the National Post.

Easy energy: take care of y-o-u

Without question, life is a whirl of a million little details that you do your best to keep in check. If you’re like most women, while managing work, family and (if you’re lucky) a social life, one of the things that you tend to skip is taking care of Y-O-U. As a result, you often end up with that nagging head-nodding fatigue throughout the day. There is no reason to accept this as the norm; in fact, if you adopt the following three energy-boosting tips, you’ll not only soar through your day, you’ll get to feel good again.

Woman energized by walk

Three easy ways to up your energy

1. Expend energy to get energy

Exercise provides you with a multitude of benefits. Not only does it help you live longer, it also gives you more get-up-and-go throughout the day.

Research suggests that regular exercise can increase energy levels, even for those who suffer from heart disease and cancer. Sure, the first thing you might think when it comes to exercise is that it tires you out, but when it becomes part of your daily routine, your overall energy level will noticeably increase.

A 2006 University of Georgia, Athens study, published in the Psychological Bulletin, compiled 70 studies relating to exercise and fatigue, creating a study pool of nearly 7,000 people. A whopping 90 percent of these studies indicated that people who added exercise to an otherwise static lifestyle, including those battling a chronic medical condition, experienced more energy than they did before starting an exercise regimen.

Make the time to add a walk, swim, bike ride or jog into your regular routine and you will soon see the difference it makes — not only in your energy level, but also in how your clothes fit.

2. Eat energizing foods

Your body is an engine and it needs the right fuel to run optimally. By choosing high-octane foods, you can increase your energy levels during the course of the day, and avoid the highs and crashes. If you haven't noticed, the sugar and caffeine combo just doesn't cut it.

The following diet tips will keep your energy up all day:

  • Munch muesli for breakfast. Muesli, a mixture of oats, nuts, and berries, is just about as good as it gets for a morning meal. Not only does muesli natually provide a solid boost to your energy level, mixing it with yogurt gives you an extra protein blast that will help you kick off your day. You can also go for the oats with a bowl of oatmeal or a modest portion of fruit and nut granola.
  • Have an energizing lunch combo. Nosh a meal comprised of complex carbohydrates and lean proteins and you'll easily sideline the three o'clock crash. A good option is tossing tuna in a green salad and nibbling vegetables and fruits to round it out.
  • Follow through with a healthy dinner. Dinnertime is when you can go a little easier on yourself – the boss won't grumble if you happen to nap through that evening sitcom. But if you want a diet that features more energy-inducing foods, look for things like lean beef, fish, whole grain pasta, or potato dishes. Health-boosting legumes, such as beans or lentils, should also be on your nightly menu.
  • When it comes to dessert, fruit is your friend. Have fruit as is, or make it the basis for dessert. For example, toss strawberry slices with a sprinkling of dark chocolate chips and dollop with a bit of Greek yogurt. The balance in carbs, protein, and fat makes this a top-notch energizing and diet-friendly treat.

Another important way to keep your energy up in between meals is to eat small healthy snacks, such as a modest handful of nuts, fruit, vegetables, a cheese stick with a few baked crackers, or a small bowl of plain yogurt with berries and honey. Keep snack portions modest since snacks are meant to tide you over – and not stuff you – until your next substantial sit down meal.

3. Naps can relax and revive

It's as obvious as it is taboo in the North American workday, but a little siesta really does go a long way. If there's no sleep room at the office, maybe a quick catnap just when you arrive home is in order.

Lucky us, we inherited the Protestant work ethic of working sun-up to sundown sans the naps. However, when you look around the world, you will find that naps or at least mid-afternoon breaks are part of the culture. There's a very good reason for this.

The Center for Sleep and Cognition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston conducted a study that focused on a group of 99 students. Researchers compared the time it took them to complete a 3-D maze. The group was split into two: one group took a 90-minute nap, the second group stayed awake before the test.

The group that took the nap was able to navigate the maze faster than those who didn't. The big bonus? The nappers who reported dreaming about the maze actually performed 10 times better than the group who stayed awake.

Maintaining energy levels is really the natural outcome of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and taking a nap cue from your body's natural rhythms will help you feel more alert and also keep you going strong throughout the day. These three steps can put you on the high-energy track of taking care of Y-O-U.

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