Does exercising give you energy

24 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Energy

18. Work out midday

When you get that midafternoon urge to doze, hit the gym instead of the sack.

A 2011 study found that working out during the workday can actually increase productivity enough to counteract that time away from your desk.von Thiele Schwarz U, et al. (2011). Employee self-rated productivity and objective organizational production levels: Effects of worksite health interventions involving reduced work hours and physical exercise. DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31822589c2

19. Power nap

Avoid the temptation to pull a Rip Van Winkle — take a midday power nap instead. According to a 2009 study, 10 to 20 minutes is the ideal nap length to help you get through the day without throwing off your nighttime sleep.Milner CE, et al. (2009). Benefits of napping in healthy adults: Impact of nap length, time of day, age, and experience with napping. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00718.x

20. Laugh

Laughter is a proven stress-buster, but studies suggest it has a bunch of other health benefits, including boosting energy levels.Yim J. (2016). Therapeutic benefits of laughter in mental health: A theoretical review. DOI: 10.1620/tjem.239.243

(Feel free to use this as permission to go on YouTube for the next half an hour.)

21. Take a cold shower

Embrace the polar bear swim! A 2007 study suggested that even a 3-minute cold shower could be enough to counteract some of the effects of chronic fatigue.Shevchuk N. (2007). Possible use of repeated cold stress for reducing fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome: A hypothesis. DOI: 10.1186/1744-9081-3-55

22. Turn up the volume

Don’t just turn on the tunes to chill out. Research has shown that getting down with some uplifting music can improve alertness, attention, and memory.Riby LM. (2013). The joys of spring: Changes in mental alertness and brain function. DOI: 10.1027/1618-3169/a000166

Planning a road trip? One study found that medium-tempo music was best for increasing alertness and reducing fatigue on a long-distance drive.Li R, et al. (2019). Effect of music tempo on long-distance driving: Which tempo is the most effective at reducing fatigue? DOI: 10.1177/2041669519861982

23. And sing along

Singing requires breath control. Belt out a full song and you’ll get plenty of extra oxygen pumping — not to mention the adrenaline of taking it to the (karaoke) stage. Plus, one 2008 study found that singing boosted energy levels among college students.Lim HA. (2008). The effect of personality type and musical task on self-perceived arousal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18563971

24. Leave your desk

Skip the sad desk lunch. According to a 2016 study, taking a real mental break from your work at lunchtime can improve your energy level over time.Sianoja M, et al. (2016). Recovery during lunch breaks: Testing long-term relations with energy levels at work. DOI: 10.16993/sjwop.13

Whether it’s a quick walk or lunch outside the office, take some time to wake up away from the glowing screen. Those emails can wait a few minutes. Really.

“The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active.”

So really, you can relax and don’t have to be on the look-out for the next killer work-out. All you have to do is get some focused 20 minutes in to get the full happiness boost every day:

“On exercise days, people’s mood significantly improved after exercising. Mood stayed about the same on days they didn’t, with the exception of people’s sense of calm which deteriorated.” (University of Bristol)

How to get into a consistent exercise habit: The dance with the endorphins

Now, that’s all nice to hear you might say, starting to exercise regularly or even daily is still easier written than done. At end of the day, there is quite a lot of focus required to help you get into the habit of exercising daily. The most important part to note first, is that exercise is a “keystone” habit according to Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. This means that daily exercise can pave the way not only for happiness, but also growth in all other areas of your life.

In a recent post from Joel, he wrote about the power of daily exercise for his everyday life. Coincidentally, he follows the above rules very accurately and exercises daily before doing anything else. He writes:

By 9:30am, I’ve done an hour of coding on the most important task I have right now on Buffer, I’ve been to the gym and had a great session, and I’ve done 30 minutes of emails. It’s only 9:30am and I’ve already succeeded, and I feel fantastic.

I’ve spoken lots to Joel about his habit of exercising and here are some of the most important things to do, in order to set yourself up for success and make your daily exercise fun:

Put your gym clothes right over your alarm clock or phone when you go to bed:
This technique sounds rather simple, but has been one of the most powerful ones. If you put everything the way you want it for the gym before you go to sleep and put your alarm under your gym clothes, you will have a much easier time to convince yourself to put your gym clothes on.

Track your exercises and log them at the same time after every exercise: When you try to exercise regularly, the key is to make it a habit. One way to achieve this is to create a so called “reward”, that will remind you of the good feelings you get from exercising. In our big list of top web apps, we have a full section on fitness apps that might be handy. Try out Fitocracy or RunKeeper to log your work-outs. Try to have a very clear logging process in place. Log your work-out just before you go into the shower or exactly when you walk out of the gym.

Nov. 3, 2006 — Feeling tired? A walk may be better than a nap for boosting energy and fighting fatigue.

New research suggests regular exercise can increase energy levels even among people suffering from chronic medical conditions associated with fatigue, like cancer and heart disease.

It may seem counterintuitive, but researchers say expending energy by engaging in regular exercise may pay off with increased energy in the long run.

“A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise,” says researcher Patrick O’Connor, PhD, in a news release. “But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help,” says O’Connor, co-director of the University of Georgia exercise psychology laboratory, in Athens, Ga.

“We live in a society where people are always looking for the next sports drink, energy bar, or cup of coffee that will give them the extra edge to get through the day,” says researcher Tim Puetz, PhD, also of UGA. “But it may be that lacing up your tennis shoes and getting out and doing some physical activity every morning can provide that spark of energy that people are looking for.”

Athens, Ga. – Sedentary people who regularly complain of fatigue can increase their energy levels by 20 percent and decrease their fatigue by 65 percent by engaging in regular, low intensity exercise, according to a new University of Georgia study.

“Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out – especially when we are already feeling fatigued,” said researcher Tim Puetz, who recently completed his doctorate at UGA and is the lead author of the study. “However, we have shown that regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy – particularly in sedentary individuals.”

Puetz co-authored the study with professor Patrick O’Connor, co-director of the UGA Exercise Psychology Laboratory, and former UGA student Sara Flowers. The team’s results appear in the February issue of the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

O’Connor said previous studies – including one that he and Puetz co-authored in 2006 – have shown that exercise can significantly improve energy levels and decrease fatigue. Those studies, however, primarily looked at patients with medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease and mental health problems. In this latest study, the researchers studied volunteers who had fatigue that was persistent yet didn’t meet the criteria for a medical condition such as chronic fatigue syndrome. O’Connor said about 25 percent of the general population experiences such fatigue.

“A lot of people are overworked and not sleeping enough,” O’Connor said. “Exercise is a way for people to feel more energetic. There’s a scientific basis for it, and there are advantages to it compared to things like caffeine and energy drinks.”

The researchers recruited 36 volunteers who did not exercise regularly and had reported persistent fatigue based on a commonly used health survey. The volunteers were divided into three groups: The first engaged in 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks; the second engaged in low-intensity aerobic exercise for the same time period; the control group did not exercise.

The low- and moderate-intensity groups had a 20 percent increase in energy levels over the control group. Surprisingly, the low-intensity group had a greater reduction in fatigue levels than the moderate-intensity group, 65 percent compared to 49 percent, respectively.

“It could be that moderate-intensity exercise is too much for people who are already fatigued,” O’Connor said, “and that might contribute to them not getting as great an improvement as they would had they done the low-intensity exercise.”

He adds that energy and fatigue aren’t exactly opposites of each other. A student who stays up late to finish a term paper may feel fatigued, for example, but may also feel energized as she nears the end of the paper.

The volunteers in the study used exercise bikes that allowed the researchers to control their level of exertion so that low-intensity exercise was defined as 40 percent of their peak oxygen consumption and moderate-intensity exercise was defined as 75 percent of peak oxygen consumption. For comparison, O’Connor said a leisurely, easy walk is low-intensity exercise, while a fast-paced walk with hills is moderate-intensity exercise.

The team’s analysis also found that the improvements in energy and fatigue were not related to increases in aerobic fitness that the exercisers experienced. Puetz said the finding suggests that exercise acts directly on the central nervous system to increase energy and reduce fatigue.

“Exercise traditionally has been associated with physical health, but we are quickly learning that exercise has a more holistic effect on the human body and includes effects on psychological health,” Puetz said. “What this means is that in every workout a single step is not just a step closer to a healthier body, but also to a healthier mind.”

Everyone knows that exercise can improve your health. Exercise is a key part of managing your weight and maintaining healthy hearts, lungs, and other bodily systems. But did you know that exercise can make you more productive? The latest research shows that a regular exercise routine can make you happier, smarter, and more energetic.

A habit of regular exercise will help keep you mentally sharper throughout your entire life. As you age, your body generates fewer and fewer brain cells (a process called neurogenesis). However, early research in mice suggests that exercise can help prevent this slowdown. In other words, by the time they reach their 50s, 60s, and 70s, people who exercise might have more brain cells than their more sedentary peers — giving them a major advantage in the workplace.

Over a shorter time-frame, an exercise routine can give you more energy throughout the day. Most of your cells contain components called mitochondria, often referred to as the cell’s “power plant.” Mitochondria produce the chemical that your body uses as energy, known as ATP. Physical exercise stimulates the development of new mitochondria within your cells, meaning that your body will be able to produce more ATP over time. That gives you more energy to exert yourself physically, but it also means more energy for your brain, boosting your mental output.

To obtain these benefits, you don’t need to sweat up a storm. In a randomized controlled trial, researchers from the University of Georgia split people into three groups: low-intensity exercise, moderate-intensity exercise, and a control group (no exercise). During the six-week experiment, both “exercise” groups reported growing levels of energy (compared to the control group), but there was no discernable difference between the moderate- and low-intensity exercise groups. In fact, the low-intensity group reported less fatigue than the moderate-intensity group.

This experiment suggests that exercise can make you feel more energized within a few weeks. By contrast, the effect of exercise on your mood is immediate. When you exercise, your body releases several different chemicals in your brain, collectively known as neurotransmitters. Although the mechanisms aren’t fully understood, these neurotransmitters seem to reduce the discomfort of exercise and create the sensation often referred to as “runner’s high.”

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This experience is highly pleasant, as British economist George MacKerron discovered in a unique, ongoing experiment. MacKerron and his team recruited over 50,000 volunteers to download an app to their smartphone. Roughly once a day, the volunteers’ phones “beep,” at which point each person reports what they are doing and how happy they are. The preliminary results? Exercise makes people very happy — only sex makes people happier. And the happier you are, the more productive you can be.

Despite all these benefits, many people find it hard to exercise regularly. They buy expensive equipment and wear the latest fashion in gym clothes, but they don’t actually get around to working out. To get into an exercise routine, I suggest in my new book, Extreme Productivity, that you organize a group of friends or family to work out together to keep you honest. This group of people can exert peer pressure on those mornings, lunches, or afternoons when you just don’t want to exercise.

Fortunately, working out with others is also more fun, as researchers found by studying elite male rowers at Oxford University. The rowers first exercised on a rowing machine in the company of their teammates; the next day, they performed the same workout at the same intensity, but by themselves. After each session, researchers tested the pain tolerance of each of the athletes, finding a higher pain tolerance when the rowers worked out together. The researchers concluded that exercising with others enhances the release of the pain-suppressing (and happiness-inducing) chemicals in your brain.

Robert C. Pozen

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Economic Studies

The evidence is compelling. A modest exercise habit can help keep you sharper into old age, give you more energy to take on the day, and improve your mood. So stop making excuses, find a group of like-minded peers, and start exercising today!

Increase Energy Levels and Cure Fatigue Through Exercise

When fatigue can no longer be blamed on winter hibernation, the cure may be as simple as to exercise, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

Researchers at the University of Georgia found that sedentary, otherwise healthy adults who engaged in as little as 20 minutes of low-to-moderate aerobic exercise,three days a week for six consecutive weeks, reported an increase in energy levels and feeling less fatigued.

Findings that low-intensity exercise improves feelings of fatigue come as no surprise to Pete McCall, Exercise Physiologist at the American Council on Exercise.

“If a sedentary individual begins an exercise program it will enhance the blood flow carrying oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue improving their ability to produce more energy (the chemical adenosine triphosphate),” McCall said.

While fatigue can be a symptom of various health problems, including serious conditions such as heart disease and cancer, research has reportedly shown that one in four people suffer from general fatigue that isn’t due to a known medical condition.

The University of Georgia study, which appeared in the March 2008 issue of the Swiss medical journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic, involved 36 sedentary healthy, young adults who reported persistent fatigue. The study called for a program of moderate-intensity exercise, low-intensity exercise or no exercise for six weeks. The moderate-intensity group was prescribed 20 minutes of exercise on an exercise bike comparable to a fast-paced walk up hills while the low-intensity group biked for the same duration and frequency, but at an intensity level equivalent to a leisurely walk, reported the New York Times newspaper on Feb. 29, 2008.

Both exercise groups experienced a 20 percent increase in energy levels by the end of the study compared to the non-exercising group; with the low-intensity group reporting a 65 percent drop in feelings of fatigue while the more intense exercisers reported a 49 percent drop in fatigue.

McCall noted that “the discrepancy between the low-intensity and moderate-intensity groups could be explained, because if the participants in the moderate-intensity group did not take the time to develop an aerobic base, then the higher rate of work might leave them feeling more physically drained.”

The results of this study suggest that expending more energy during exercise doesn’t necessarily translate into feeling more energized. At the same time, the scientists noted that higher energy levels in this formerly non-exercising group did not improve aerobic fitness.

Exercise Recommendations for Healthy Adults

To gain health and wellness benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services exercise guidelines, healthy adults need to engage in 2 ½ hours of weekly moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or gardening.

For more physically fit adults, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, such as swimming laps, hiking uphill or race-walking can offer similar benefits in half the time. Sedentary people should consult their physician before engaging in vigorous physical activity.

McCalls recommendation: “A great option for exercise, as well as the environment, is to start cycling for both pleasure and for running errands or commuting to work.”

He added, “Research indicates that most errands people run are within two miles of their homes, a distance that is easily covered on a bicycle. If people could begin cycling, then it will help them to exercise while at the same time reducing the amount of carbons in the air.”

But even 10-minute bouts of heart-pumping activity are better than none at all. To regain lost muscle mass and strengthen weakening bones, which is part of the typical aging process, the experts also recommend that adults lift weights twice a week.

Considering that two-thirds of American adults are overweight and obese, exercising combined with a healthy diet can be a life-saver given the clear link between excessive weight gain and a heightened risk for serious chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure.

With only about 26 percent of U.S. adults engaging in vigorous leisure-time physical activity three or more times a week, the time to make a positive change toward a more active lifestyle by joining a local health club, the YMCA or JCC is now. Working out or engaging in recreational activities with friends and family is another great way to jump on the exercise bandwagon.

For the first time, Americans are raising children who may grow up even less healthy than their parents, because many are even more inactive than adults, preferring playing videogames and online social networking over exercise.

Yet, scientific evidence has shown that regular physical activity can do much more than cut feelings of fatigue and bolster overall well-being.

An expert panel gathered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that regular physical activity can cut risk of heart attacks and stroke by at least 20 percent and reduce the chance of early death.

With summer being just around the corner, this is the perfect time to start an exercise program to get energized, combat fatigue and lose a few extra pounds for those Kodak moments at the beach, summer parties and family reunions.

When people have a tough time with self motivation or staying on track, working with an ACE-certified Personal Trainer can help individuals establish appropriate goals, safely achieve meaningful results, and stick with their exercise programs.

This is what McCall tells his clients: “I want you to set a goal of making it to the gym at least three days a week. The first time you’ll meet with me, so you need to find time in your schedule for two more workouts. At the onset of the program the most important consideration is to help you establish a habit of regular exercise. Once that pattern is established, the program can be tweaked to meet your specific goals.

He feels that personal trainers can teach clients how to make exercise a part of their daily routines.

“Even if they don’t have time in their schedules on a particular day, I still want my clients to find activities, such as taking the stairs or parking in the spot farthest away from their destination, to help increase their daily activity levels,” McCall said.

Chronic exercise beats chronic fatigue every time, he noted.

“The most important thing with starting an exercise program to combat fatigue is to establish a regular pattern of exercise (or chronic exercise as scientists in the exercise field like to call it),” McCall said.

Low-intensity Exercise Reduces Fatigue Symptoms By 65 Percent, Study Finds

“Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out – especially when we are already feeling fatigued,” said researcher Tim Puetz, who recently completed his doctorate at UGA and is the lead author of the study. “However, we have shown that regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy – particularly in sedentary individuals.”

Puetz co-authored the study with professor Patrick O’Connor, co-director of the UGA Exercise Psychology Laboratory, and former UGA student Sara Flowers.*

O’Connor said previous studies – including one that he and Puetz co-authored in 2006 – have shown that exercise can significantly improve energy levels and decrease fatigue. Those studies, however, primarily looked at patients with medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease and mental health problems. In this latest study, the researchers studied volunteers who had fatigue that was persistent yet didn’t meet the criteria for a medical condition such as chronic fatigue syndrome. O’Connor said about 25 percent of the general population experiences such fatigue.

“A lot of people are overworked and not sleeping enough,” O’Connor said. “Exercise is a way for people to feel more energetic. There’s a scientific basis for it, and there are advantages to it compared to things like caffeine and energy drinks.”

The researchers recruited 36 volunteers who did not exercise regularly and had reported persistent fatigue based on a commonly used health survey. The volunteers were divided into three groups: The first engaged in 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks; the second engaged in low-intensity aerobic exercise for the same time period; the control group did not exercise.

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The low- and moderate-intensity groups had a 20 percent increase in energy levels over the control group. Surprisingly, the low-intensity group had a greater reduction in fatigue levels than the moderate-intensity group, 65 percent compared to 49 percent, respectively.

“It could be that moderate-intensity exercise is too much for people who are already fatigued,” O’Connor said, “and that might contribute to them not getting as great an improvement as they would had they done the low-intensity exercise.”

He adds that energy and fatigue aren’t exactly opposites of each other. A student who stays up late to finish a term paper may feel fatigued, for example, but may also feel energized as she nears the end of the paper.

The volunteers in the study used exercise bikes that allowed the researchers to control their level of exertion so that low-intensity exercise was defined as 40 percent of their peak oxygen consumption and moderate-intensity exercise was defined as 75 percent of peak oxygen consumption. For comparison, O’Connor said a leisurely, easy walk is low-intensity exercise, while a fast-paced walk with hills is moderate-intensity exercise.

The team’s analysis also found that the improvements in energy and fatigue were not related to increases in aerobic fitness that the exercisers experienced. Puetz said the finding suggests that exercise acts directly on the central nervous system to increase energy and reduce fatigue.

“Exercise traditionally has been associated with physical health, but we are quickly learning that exercise has a more holistic effect on the human body and includes effects on psychological health,” Puetz said. “What this means is that in every workout a single step is not just a step closer to a healthier body, but also to a healthier mind.”

*The team’s results appear in the February issue of the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

How long you need to do cardio to reap the benefits for your body and brain

Aerobic exercise, or “cardio,” might be the closest thing to a miracle drug that we have.

A growing body of research suggests that when we commit to regular workouts that raise our heart rate and get us moving and sweating for a sustained period of time, magical things happen to our body and brain.

We think more clearly, feel better overall, and protect ourselves against some of the cognitive decline that occurs with age, studies suggest.

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“Aerobic exercise … has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress,” the authors of an article in the Harvard Medical School blog “Mind and Mood” wrote.

But how long should you be cycling, swimming, walking, or running to reap these benefits?

Overall, research suggests that the magic happens somewhere in the window of about 30-45 minutes at minimum.

Aa recent paper looked at the exercise habits of hundreds of breast cancer survivors who were experiencing symptoms like “chemo brain,” which involves memory loss and trouble focusing. The researchers found that as little as 30 minutes of an aerobic exercise like walking was linked with significantly better performance on cognitive quizzes.

Another study published in May provided some additional support for that research — it found that in adults aged 60-88, walking for 30 minutes four days a week for 12 weeks appeared to strengthen connectivity in a region of the brain where weakened connections have been linked to memory loss.

Similarly, a pilot study in people with severe depression found that just 30 minutes of treadmill walking for 10 consecutive days appeared to be “sufficient to produce a clinically relevant and statistically significant reduction in depression.”

Other research suggests it might be better to do cardio for longer. A study in the British Medical Journal found that in adults over 50, the best results for the brain appeared to come from a routine that combined aerobic exercises with resistance training (i.e. muscle-building exercises like planks and push-ups) and lasted at least 45 minutes.

Researchers still aren’t sure why this type of exercise appears to provide a boost to the brain, but some studies suggest it has to do with increased blood flow, which provides our minds with fresh energy and oxygen. One recent study in older women who displayed potential symptoms of dementia also found that aerobic exercise was linked with an increase in the size of the hippocampus, a brain area involved in learning and memory. Another reason might have to do with cardio’s ability to help reduce levels of the body’s natural stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, according to a recent study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.

Joe Northey, the lead author of the British study and an exercise scientist at the University of Canberra, said his research suggests that anyone in good health over age 50 should do 45 minutes to an hour of aerobic exercise “on as many days of the week as feasible.”

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Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2017. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

Four Scientific Reasons Why Exercise Makes You Feel So Good

Whether you dread or adore cardio workouts, it’s no secret that it serves a crucial purpose in any exercise plan.

By getting your heart rate up and increasing blood circulation throughout your body, you can burn calories, reduce fat, improve your heart health, rev your metabolism, and much more.

Aaptiv has workouts to help you do all that. Check them out in app today.

Cardio also just makes you feel good. This is due to the release of endorphins. These can lead to lower levels of depression, fatigue, and stress.

Here are four quick reasons exercise has such a positive impact on your brain and body.

Exercise is nature’s painkiller.

When you put your body to the test, your brain’s hypothalamus (our favorite brain booster) and pituitary gland produces neurochemicals called endorphins.

These are considered nature’s painkillers. They bring about feelings of euphoria and well-being as well as highlight the “reward” circuit of your brain. That area is typically related to food, drink, sexual activity, and so forth.

“Exercise naturally energizes you,” explains Aaptiv trainer Jessica Muenster (see Jessica’s workouts in the Aaptiv app here), ACE, CPT. “When you get your blood flowing and your body moving, you release endorphins which combat stress.”

Upon exercising, neurotransmitters like serotonin or norepinephrine help teach your body how to better respond to stressors.

Studies even show that low levels of both are linked to depression and anxiety. So, higher levels of those chemicals during exercise naturally make you feel good.

It can be addictive . . . in the best way possible.

Runner’s high is a psychological condition where runners and feel invincible with little discomfort. It has long been attributed to endorphins.

However, it’s actually fairly subjective. It occurs in conjunction with sustained aerobic exercise (running, but also swimming, cycling, or rowing).

It is known to be rather addictive. Research shows reaching runner’s high can feel as good as being on a drug high.

And, while that sensation can occasionally lead to exercise addiction, it most often simply helps people love their daily workouts—and more importantly, stick with them.

You’re practicing self-control and building brainpower.

“Cardio workouts can be very energizing,” says Muenster. “I’m much less energized if I do not run or workout in the morning. Sometimes it’s hard to get started. But it’s always worth it once you get past that initial tired phase and your body adjusts to what you’re doing.”

Aside from building energy, research shows cardio helps you boost learning ability and practice self-control.

In one study, moving for as little as 15 minutes helped people better manage cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms, because exercise releases a neurotransmitter called GABA that helps control impulse and quiet anxious brain activity.

Physical exercise also may increase levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor), which can build healthier nerve cells, leading to enriched memory and heightened capacity for new concepts.

Cardio beats the blues and sparks energy.

Gretchen Reynolds, author of The First Twenty Minutes, says moving around for just 20 minutes a day better equips you to beat any blues or cultivate energy after a long day.

That’s not to say you should stop at 20 minutes. But considering 80 percent of American adults do not meet national physical activity recommendations, it’s important to remember a little can go a long way. Exercise makes you feel better, so make it a priority even for small windows of time.

“Sometimes just getting away, and getting that alone time in that exercise provides, is what you need to be able to regroup and think,” says Muenster.

Have you seen the cardio section in the Aaptiv app yet? We’ve just added new workouts for you to check out!

Regular Exercise Plays A Consistent And Significant Role In Reducing Fatigue

“A lot of times when people are fatigued the last thing they want to do is exercise,” said professor Patrick O’Connor, co-director of the UGA exercise psychology laboratory. “But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help.”

Health professionals encourage regular exercise to prevent or improve symptoms of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, but the scientific evidence on whether exercise increases or reduces fatigue had never been reviewed quantitatively. O’Connor, kinesiology professor Rod Dishman and lead author Tim Puetz, who recently completed his doctoral work at UGA, analyzed 70 randomized, controlled trials that enrolled a total of 6,807 subjects. They found strong support for the role of exercise in reducing fatigue.

“More than 90 percent of the studies showed the same thing: Sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise” O’Connor said. “It’s a very consistent effect.”

The study, published in the November issue of the journal Psychological Bulletin, quantified the magnitude of the effect of exercise and found that it was stronger than the treatment of fatigued people with drugs such as the narcolepsy drug modafinil. Specifically, the researchers found that exercise increased energy and reduced fatigue by 0.37 standard deviations when compared to control groups, whereas participants in a previous study taking modafinil had an improvement of 0.23 standard deviations.

Puetz notes that their analysis found that nearly every group studied – from healthy adults to cancer patients to those with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease – benefited from exercise. He acknowledges that it may seem counterintuitive that expending energy through exercise would increase feelings of energy and reduce fatigue, but he points out that previous studies have shown marked increases in the levels of energy-promoting and mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the brains of animals that are placed in regular exercise conditions.

“We live in a society where people are always looking for the next sports drink, energy bar or cup of coffee that will give them the extra edge to get through the day,” Puetz said. “But it may be that lacing up your tennis shoes and getting out and doing some physical activity every morning can provide that spark of energy that people are looking for.”

Energy Usage During Exercise: How It Affects Your Workouts

By Jessica Smith, Fitness Consultant

Introduction

While most people know that aerobic exercise is good for the heart and that resistance training helps build lean body mass, most people don’t fully understand how these different types of exercise elicit very different responses within our bodies. A basic understanding of how our body uses energy during different forms of exercise is critical for designing an effective exercise program. We will focus on energy systems—i.e., how the body utilizes fat, carbohydrate, and protein to produce energy—and how these energy systems are relied upon during different forms of exercise.

This article will give you a better understanding of how your body converts the food you eat into usable energy and how targeting specific energy systems will help you achieve your personal health and fitness goals.

Energy Systems Review

In general, there are three basic energy systems: (1) the phosphagen system (also referred to as the immediate energy system), (2) the glycolytic energy system (also referred to as the nonoxidative or anaerobic system), and (3) mitochondrial respiration (also referred to as the oxidative or aerobic system).

Regardless of what energy system is used, the end result is the production of adenosine triphosphate (or ATP). ATP is extracted from the food we eat (fat, carbohydrate, and protein) and is required for the biochemical reactions involved in any muscle contraction. The intensity and duration of the activity dictates which foodstuffs are broken down as well as which energy system predominates. It is important to keep in mind, however, that no energy system acts alone.

The relative contribution from each system depends on the intensity and duration of the activity. The Phosphagen or Immediate Energy System The phosphagen system is active during all-out exercise that lasts about 5 to 10 seconds such as a 100-meter dash, diving, jumping, lifting a heavy weight, dashing up a flight of stairs, or any other activity that involves a maximal, short burst of power. This system relies on stored ATP and to a larger extent, creatine phosphate to provide immediate energy. For any maximal intensity exercise lasting longer than 10 seconds, assistance from other sources of energy is required.

Glycolytic Energy or Anaerobic System The glycolytic energy system (also called glycolysis) involves the partial break down of glucose to a molecule called pyruvate. During this process, a relatively small amount of energy is produced. When oxygen demands exceed the oxygen supply, pyruvate is converted to lactate. Under these circumstances, glycolysis is often referred to as “fast” or “anaerobic” glycolysis. Anaerobic glycolysis is a key contributor to the total energy requirements for moderate to high intensity exercise lasting about one to two minutes. Although this system can provide a rapid source of energy, it is only about half as fast as the phosphagen system.

When there is enough oxygen to meet the oxygen demands of the activity, such as during prolonged light to moderate intensity exercise, glycolysis proceeds much slower and the pyruvate that is formed participates in the formation of additional energy via aerobic processes (see Aerobic System discussion below). In this case, glycolysis is sometimes referred to as “aerobic” or “slow” glycolysis.

We often think of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise as a good way to burn a significant amount of fat. While this is true, aerobic energy can be derived from carbohydrates and to a much smaller extent, protein. In fact, most people don’t realize that even during light to moderate exercise, carbohydrates can provide up to 40 to 60 percent of the total energy requirements. (See Table 1.) In contrast, protein is not a preferred source of energy during any form of exercise (assuming an adequate diet) and generally contributes less than 10 percent of the total energy requirements.

Monitoring Your Energy Usage

One of the most effective methods of determining the predominant energy system during a specific form of exercise is by monitoring your heart rate. Heart rate monitoring can help you determine the intensity of your workout as well as estimate the heart rate at which you transition from aerobic to anaerobic exercise (i.e., from carbohydrate and fat usage to predominantly carbohydrate).

While the transition point differs from person to person, you can get a general idea of where you transition from aerobic to anaerobic exercise by watching for substantial increases in heart rate, muscle fatigue, or in breathing depth and frequency. If you are truly engaging in anaerobic exercise, you will not be able to sustain the intensity of the exercise for longer than about one to two minutes.

If you notice your intensity dropping off, you were probably performing anaerobic exercise. In contrast, if you are able to sustain your exercise intensity longer than about two minutes, you are probably exercising aerobically. As your fitness improves, you will be able to perform higher intensity exercise for longer periods of time.

Exercise Mode and Energy Usage

Keep in mind that although resistance training doesn’t necessarily burn a significant number of calories, it can provide significant health and fitness benefits. Not only does resistance training increase lean body mass (i.e., muscle), which burns more calories than fat even while at rest, engaging in a regular resistance training can have positive effects on elements such as cholesterol, glucose metabolism, and bone density, to name a few.

Circuit Training Circuit training is sometimes considered a type of resistance training, but it is actually a compromise between resistance training and cardiovascular training. Essentially, circuit training can improve muscle endurance as well as provide modest gains in aerobic capacity. Because it is generally a low to moderate intensity workout that is sustained for an hour or more, circuit training is primarily an aerobic activity.

Aerobic Exercise: Walking, Jogging, Traditional Hi-Lo Aerobics, and Step Aerobics “Aerobic” exercise is typically touted as a great way to burn a lot of fat. While this is not necessarily incorrect, it can be misleading. For example, at about 25 percent of aerobic capacity (i.e., low intensity exercise), fat is the primary source of fuel, but you are not burning a significant number of calories. If your goal is to lose weight, the key consideration is the net deficit in calories, not where the calories come from. As exercise intensity increases, the number of calories burned also increases. Therefore, while it is true that fat contributes a greater percentage of the total energy during lower intensity exercise, at higher intensity exercise, the total quantity of fat utilized may be greater for exercise performed for an equivalent period of time.

So How Does Energy Usage Affect Your Workout?

If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, but simply want to improve your overall health, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends moderate intensity physical activity performed for at least 20 to 30 minutes, excluding time spent warming up and cooling down, 3 to 5 times a week. If, on the other hand, you are training for some type of competitive event, make sure that your training program emphasizes the type of activity involved in that event.

For example, if you are training for a triathlon, engaging in a power lifting training program three days a week will not make the best use of your time. You need to actively engage in running, biking, and swimming. Finally, if your goal is to lose weight, caloric deficit is key. You should aim for a caloric deficit of about 500 calories a day through decreased energy intake, increased energy expenditure, or a combination of the two. Although there are numerous types of exercise that are effective for weight loss, a combination of regular aerobic exercise and resistance training is a good place to start.

Table 1. Nutrient usage at different exercise intensities

About Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith Jessica Smith, Fitness Consultant. Jessica has a Master’s degree in Bioengineering with an emphasis in biomechanics. She presently has her own consulting business and provides expertise in the areas of health and fitness, exercise physiology, and biomechanics, among others. Jessica has been involved in a number of projects including the development of health and fitness related website content, fitness equipment design, and program development for group exercise classes. She has also authored several articles for fitness magazines. Jessica was a member of the 1990 NCAA championship gymnastics team and is now an avid recreational athlete. She currently holds certifications through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Chronic lack of sleep makes it hard to focus on a task. As if this didn’t make complete logical sense, multiple research studies have shown that sleep deprivation has about the same effect on our cognition and coordination as a few alcoholic beverages.

What do you do when you need to concentrate, but you’re tired?

Many of us reach for a cup of coffee, or a soda. Mountains of solid research have shown us that caffeine (in doses ranging between 30 and 300 milligrams) improves attention, alertness, reaction time, and mood, especially when we’re tired. An average cup of brewed coffee contains between 80 and 100 milligrams of caffeine; a soda, between 30 and 60.

But exercise works too. This is also well-studied. Even a short bout of any cardiovascular exercise wakes us up, speeds mental processes, and enhances memory storage and retrieval, regardless of our fitness or fatigue levels.

So, when it’s late afternoon and I’m struggling with charting or finishing one of these pieces, what should I do: exercise a bit, or go for coffee?

One recent (and very small) study compared these two wake-up methods. This well-conducted study used healthy but chronically sleep-deprived volunteers to compare three interventions: caffeine, stair-climbing, and placebo. They found that just 10 minutes of stair-climbing boosted self-reported levels of energy far more than a moderate dose of caffeine (50 mg). However, this was a very small study — only 18 out of 90 healthy, college-aged women met all the criteria and were willing to participate.

Digging deeper: Exercise offers more long-term benefits

While the findings make a whole lot of sense, I went to the existing piles of literature for more information.

Interestingly, another study looked at the effects of either exercise alone or exercise plus caffeine on cognitive tasks, and found that (perhaps predictably) exercise plus caffeine had the greater benefit.

Caffeine (in the form of coffee) has been well-studied, and regular intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, but may increase cholesterol. It may be protective against certain types of dementia and cancer, but has been associated with bone loss and rheumatoid arthritis. Basically, there are many benefits, but there seem to be some risks as well.

But there are multiple studies suggesting that exercise has multiple long-lasting positive effects on physical fitness and function, cognition, mood, and behavior in just about all populations studied, in all ages, fitness levels, and regardless of baseline cognitive function. Some of the greatest benefits have been seen in older patients, as well as patients at risk for or diagnosed with dementia.

The take-home message? Caffeine can provide a boost in alertness and energy levels that may help you to think faster and better, for a while. But even a short burst of exercise can do the same, maybe more, and for longer. In addition, while caffeine is associated with both good and bad health outcomes, exercise is good for everything.

Sources

Neurocognitive consequences of sleep deprivation. Seminars in Neurology, 2005.

Fatigue, alcohol and performance impairment. Nature, 1997.

Quantifying the performance impairment associated with fatigue. Journal of Sleep Research, 1999.

Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2000.

Fatigue-related impairment in the speed, accuracy and variability of psychomotor performance: comparison with blood alcohol levels. Journal of Sleep Research, 2005.

A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, December 2016.

Diet, Brain, Behavior: Practical Implications, CRC Press, 2011.

The effects of low doses of caffeine on human performance and mood. Psychopharmacology, 1987.

Is caffeine a cognitive enhancer? Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2010.

The effect of exercise-induced arousal on cognitive task performance: a meta-regression analysis. Brain Research, 2010.

The effect of a single bout of exercise on energy and fatigue states: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior, 2013.

Exercise and caffeine improve sustained attention following fatigue independent of fitness status. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior, 2015.

Effects of habitual coffee consumption on cardiometabolic disease, cardiovascular health, and all-cause mortality. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, September 2013.

Habitual coffee consumption and risk of cognitive decline/dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutrition, December 2015.

Coffee and autoimmunity: More than a mere hot beverage! Autoimmunity Reviews, May 2017.

Cognitive Benefits of Exercise Intervention. La Clinica Terapeutica, Nov-Dec. 2016.

Role of exercise on the brain. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, October 2016.

Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2017.

The effects of exercise training on elderly persons with cognitive impairment and dementia: A meta-analysis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. October 2004.

Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults: a meta-analytic study. Psychological Science, 2003.

Effect of physical activity on cognitive function in older adults at risk for Alzheimer disease: a randomized trial. JAMA, 2008.

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