Exercise for Energy: Workouts That Work
Want to fight fatigue? Here's what kind of exercise -- and how much -- is best.
There you are, sitting on the couch, remote in hand, thinking, "I should
be exercising. If only I weren't too
tired to get off the couch!" Indeed, fatigue is among the most
common complaints doctors hear. But you might be surprised to learn that
experts say one of the best antidotes to beating fatigue and boosting energy is
to exercise more, not less.
"It's now been shown in many studies that once you actually start moving
around -- even just getting up off the couch and walking around the room -- the
more you will want to move, and, ultimately, the more energy you will
feel," says Robert E. Thayer, PhD, a psychology professor at California
State University, Long Beach, and author of the book Calm Energy: How People
Regulate Mood With Food.
And, experts say, when it comes to fighting fatigue, not all exercise is
created equal. Read on to find out what kind of exercise -- and how much -- you
should be doing for optimum energy-boosting results.
Just How Does Exercise Boost Energy?
In a study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
in 2008, University of Georgia researchers found that inactive folks who
normally complained of fatigue could increase energy by 20% while decreasing
fatigue by as much as 65% by simply participating in regular, low-intensity
Further, Thayer says, a study he plans to present at an American
Psychological Association meeting reveals that on days when people walked more
total daily steps, they ended the day with more energy then on days when they
How exactly does this happen?
"Contrary to popular belief, exercising doesn't make you tired -- it
literally creates energy in your body. Your body rises up to meet the challenge
for more energy by becoming stronger," says nutritionist Samantha Heller,
MS, RD, a nutrition advisor for the Journey for Control diabetes program.
Heller says this happens on the cellular level, where the first stirrings of
our natural energy production begin. "It all begins with tiny organs called
mitochondria. Located in our cells, they work like tiny power plants to produce
energy," she says.
While some of that energy comes from your diet (one reason that eating too
little can power down your metabolism), the number of
mitochondria you have -- and thus your ability to produce energy -- is affected
by your daily activity.
"For example, the more you exercise aerobically, the more mitochondria
the body makes to produce more energy to meet your needs, which is one reason
how -- and why -- regular cardiovascular exercise actually creates more
available energy for your body," says Heller.
Exercise for Energy: What Really Works
So just how do you go about getting some of this energy for yourself?
First of all, Thayer says, it's important to understand that there are
different types of energy. And not all have the same positive effect on the