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  • 11/30/2008

Energy Boosters--Part 1 


Feeling sluggish? A few simple tricks can put a spring in your step and help you feel more awake every day


1. Get an Energy Boost from Trying Something New

Recent research confirms what world travelers and adult-education addicts already know: New experiences give you a rush. “We’ve known that when people do something novel, the brain’s reward chemical, dopamine, is released,” says Gregory Berns, M.D., a neuroscientist at Emory University, in Atlanta, and the author of Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment . But novelty has an added benefit. “What we’ve discovered in the last five years,” Berns says, “is that dopamine is also a motivating chemical that gears us up to do more.” In other words, take a trip or learn Spanish and you may also feel inspired to start a new project at home or work.


2. Get an Energy Boost from Moving Around

The more active you are, the better your circulation will be. And good circulation is “essential for energy because blood transports oxygen and nutrients — fuel for the cells — to the muscles, brain, etc.,” says internist Jacob Teitelbaum.

If you have a desk job, get up throughout the day — once an hour is ideal — to give your body breaks from activities such as typing and staring at the computer.

 Also, stand up when you’re on the phone or pace around the office. When you’re stuck seated, like on a long car ride, do neck rolls and shoulder shrugs and circle your feet to keep blood circulating.]


And sit up straight. Good posture opens the chest cavity and increases oxygen intake by as much as 30 percent, making more energy available to your mind and muscles, says Teitelbaum. If you’re a sloucher, trade in your chair for an exercise ball, which forces you to sit taller, says Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Healthy Aging .


3.Get an Energy Boost from Breathing Deeply

pure wind

Shallow breathing prevents the body from getting enough oxygen. Many people fail to breathe deeply when they feel tense, which is one reason they may feel zapped at the end of a stress-filled day.

“The general principles of correct breathing are to make it deeper, slower, quieter, and more regular,” says Andrew Weil, M.D.


Doing so helps you force more oxygen into your cells, which slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and improves circulation, ultimately providing more energy.

Weil suggests you do a simple breathing exercise twice a day or whenever you feel yourself losing steam: Put the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Then inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat for a total of four breaths.


4. Get an Energy Boost from Exercise


Regular workouts boost energy stores by conditioning the body to make optimal use of oxygen and glucose, its two primary fuel sources.

“You need only 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week, to get the cardiovascular benefits that lead to increased vitality,” says Woodson Merrell, M.D., director of integrative medicine at the Continuum Center for Health and Healing, at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

There’s good evidence that simply walking regularly can boost energy. Ongoing research on the relationship between mood and activity by Robert E. Thayer, a professor of psychology at California State University in Long Beach, has found that the more steps his research subjects take, the more energetic they report feeling.


5. Get an Energy Boost from Grazing


Eating consistently — three small meals with snacks in between — keeps your blood-sugar level even, so you don’t experience the highs and lows that occur when you go too long without food, says Molly Kimball, a registered dietitian at the Ochsner Clinic’s Elmwood Fitness Center, in New Orleans.

Ideally, all your meals and snacks should contain complex carbohydrates (produce, whole grains) to provide fuel, and protein (nuts, cheese) to give you endurance.

 Try an apple and a piece of cheese or carrot sticks and edamame.


Snacks of refined carbs, like cookies and pretzels, provide an initial rush, but the body burns them quickly and your energy soon flags. To satiate a sweet tooth, try dark chocolate. It contains the chemical phenylethylamine, which increases energy by improving mood and attention span. According to internist Jacob Teitelbaum, dark chocolate also contains theobromine, a mild stimulant.

Other Links:

Energy Boosters--Part 2

14 Quick Energy Boosters

The Two-Week Stress-Less Plan

9 Things You Can Do to Be Happy in the Next 30 Minutes

Make More Time for Yourself: Part 1

Make More Time for Yourself : Part 2


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