5 Top tips to boost your energy levels

Posted on: 05 May 2010 by Mark O'haire

Are you feeling sluggish and tired all the time? Try these quick fixes to boost flagging energy levels.

If you need a boost to pick up your energy levels, find out how to keep your energy levels on a natural high.

Exercise

Exercise can make you feel lively and boosts levels of endorphins, the happy chemicals that make us feel good. Other chemicals like adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine are all released during exercise, giving you a natural energy boost.

Personal trainer Sarah Norman says that if you stop exercising for more than two weeks, fitness levels begin to drop and you feel tired because small blood capillaries, which deliver oxygen to the heart and lungs, reduce in size and number.

"Your digestive system also slows down and works harder to process food, making you feel tired, so it's important to keep the engine running," she says.

What to do -

Power walks, jogging with the dog and dance/ yoga classes are fun ways to release feel-good hormones.

Go for a walk in the sunshine

Next time the sun is out, why not go for a short walk? According to Dr Lance Workman, head of psychology at Bath Spa University, even a short walk in the sun can boost energy and mood. "When our bodies are exposed to natural light, it has the effect of boosting serotonin levels - our bodies' natural feel-good hormone," he says.

What to do -

To regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone produced from serotonin that's vital for sleep, researchers recommend getting out in natural daylight for half an hour everyday. "Melatonin is nature's Prozac, it stimulates the brain and makes you feel more active," says Dr Workman.

Combine the right foods

Fast food and a bar of your favourite chocolate at the end of a long day saps the body's energy reserves. Sugary, fatty and processed foods that we crave when we're low on energy might give an instant boost but end up actually increasing tiredness. After an initial sugar high, the body releases insulin that leaves us feeling lethargic.

What to do -

"Keep things fresh and simple," says nutritionist and medical herbalist Dale Pinnock. "Fresh fruit or raw vegetables are less processed, full of nutrients and contain enzymes needed to digest food. Mixing proteins and complex carbohydrates such as baked fish and brown rice, or peanut butter and oatcakes, keep energy levels sustained."

Try a nutritional supplement

Siberian ginseng has been used in China for over 5,000 years as a cure for exhaustion. "Ginseng helps the body deal with stress," says medical herbalist Dale Pinnock. "This time of year people's moods dip, and ginseng minimises the release of stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol that zap energy levels."

What to do -

Try taking a ginseng supplement because the active ingredients are ginsenosides that have been found to improve stamina and concentration. Other energy-boosting supplements include B vitamins and magnesium that have a vital role to play in energy production.

Drink lots of water

The human body is 60-70% water, and all of the reactions - which generate energy in the body - take place in water. If you're not drinking enough water, you will become fuzzy-headed and tired. Try to drink about two litres each day.

If you drink enough your energy levels will be more consistent, and you can say goodbye to after-lunch lethargy or end-of-the-day crabbiness.

What to do -

If you must drink bottled water, choose a natural mineral water because these are subject to the strictest regulations. Sparkling can contain excessive levels of salt - avoid any with more than 20mg of sodium per litre.

Eat a banana on an oatcake

To avoid energy dips after lunch, experts recommend eating a snack rich in carbohydrate. Athletes who graze on foods low in fat and high in carbohydrates before a sporting activity are known to perform better, says Dale Pinnock nutritionist and medical herbalist.

What to do -

"Bananas are a great pick-me-up, but because of their high sugar content they cause the body to release insulin - which makes us feel lethargic.

"Eat with a high fibre food such as an oatcake: the carbohydrates will be released more slowly into the bloodstream. It means you'll experience a sustained increase in energy, rather than the highs and lows experienced after eating a sugary snack," he says.

Kapalabhati Breathing

Kapalabhati breathing is a simple deep breathing technique that uses the diaphragm, a sheet of muscle at the bottom of our lungs. "This type of breathing increases energy by releasing tension," says Dawn Lintern, teacher at the North London Buddhist Centre.

What to do -

Kneel down, sitting back on your heels and rest your hands on your knees. Sit comfortably with your back straight but relaxed and head facing forward. Contract the abdominal muscles quickly, causing the diaphragm to rise and force the air out of your lungs. Relax the abdomen, allowing the air to return gently to the lungs. Do 20-50 breaths, and repeat three to five times.

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