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Fight Fatigue
The Most Powerful Way to Boost Your Energy

Exercise for energy.
Exercise for energy.

Feeling tired is something many of us experience. When you wake up, you start with a limited amount of energy. If you had a poor night’s sleep, you start with even less.

There are several things you can do to give yourself a boost. Many people grab a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage. You can also let natural light in, eat a healthy breakfast, drink less alcohol and more water, stop smoking, turn off the news and layout a plan for the day.

All those strategies work, but researchers found one thing that was better; regular exercise. Working out can reduce fatigue and increase your energy even more than powerful stimulant medications used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

The concept doesn’t seem to make sense. If you workout, raise your heart rate, break a sweat and burn calories, how can you end up with MORE energy every day than if you sat on your butt and did nothing?

A 2006 study published in the Psychological Bulletin looked into that very question. Researchers analyzed 70 studies involving 6,807 subjects. Here’s what they concluded.

The cumulative evidence shows that chronic exercise programs are associated with an increase in feelings of energy and a decrease in feelings of fatigue that are large enough to be clinically important.”

In other words, if you exercise regularly, you'll have more energy. Here’s how they defined chronic exercise.

Chronic exercise, also known as exercise training, refers to cumulative, acute bouts of physical activity that are planned, structured, and repeated and result in improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness, including cardiorespiratory capacity, muscle strength, body composition, and flexibility.”

When researchers broke down the data to see who benefitted the most, they found regular exercise was good for almost everybody. If you’re healthy, it can help keep you fit, but it’s also good for patients with more serious medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

To try and figure out just how much of an energy boost exercisers got, researchers put together an experiment in 2008. At the University of Georgia, they recruited 36 healthy volunteers with persistent fatigue who did NOT exercise regularly. Then they broke them down into three groups.

The first group engaged in 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks. The second group engaged in 20 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise. The control group didn’t exercise.

After six weeks, both low and moderate-intensity groups had a 20 percent increase in energy compared to the control group. Fatigue was reduced by an impressive 49 to 65 percent.

When we exercise, our bodies make mitochondria, which produce energy for our bodies to use. Think of mitochondria as power plants for our cells. Regular exercise keeps the elevated levels of energy from mitochondria flowing.

For many people, just getting more energy to push through the day is a reason to start working out. But the benefits of regular exercise go way beyond an energy boost. Working out can help you drop fat, build muscle and condition your body to withstand everyday stresses and abuses.

It’s important to note that both those studies looked at low and moderate levels of exercise for about 20-30 minutes. If you head to the gym and push yourself through an intense hour-long workout, it’s definitely going to tire you out.

Fortunately, additional research has shown that the reduction in stress from an intense workout, combined with the increased energy you get from more muscle growth, can offset the fatigue. As your muscles start recovering, the hour after your intense workout can produce a surge of energy along with a reduction in the tension you feel.

When you start an exercise program, be careful not to overdo it. Your body needs time to produce the extra mitochondria. Start with low-moderate training to prepare your body. Increase the intensity as you become better conditioned and build up over time.

Reference Links:

Effects of Chronic Exercise on Feelings of Energy and Fatigue: A Quantitative Synthesis

Timothy W. Puetz, Patrick J. O’Connor, and Rod K. Dishman
Psychological Bulletin, 2006, Vol. 132, No. 6, 866 – 876

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A randomized controlled trial of the effect of aerobic exercise training on feelings of energy and fatigue in sedentary young adults with persistent fatigue

Timothy W Puetz 1, Sara S Flowers, Patrick J O'Connor
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 2008;77(3):167-74. doi: 10.1159/000116610. Epub 2008 Feb 14.

Click Here for the Study

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