So you think you’re too tired to exercise? You may want to think again. It turns out that exercise is one of the best energy boosters you can find. Here’s some even better news: it doesn’t take much to experience benefits. A study conducted at the University of Georgia and reported in an article in the New York Times found that 20 minutes of low-intensity exercise done three times per week for 6 weeks decreased participants’ feelings of fatigue by a whopping 65%. Another group in the study engaged in a more intense level of exercise and, although their energy levels also increased, the reduction in fatigue was much less. This further shows that it is not necessary to run a marathon or even a 5K to benefit from exercise.
Another article in WebMD on boosting energy and fighting fatigue draws similar conclusions. This article makes the distinction between energy that creates tension (“Type A achievement-oriented energy”) and the kind of “calm energy” that clears your mind without physical tension. According to Robert E. Thayer, PhD, a psychology professor at California State University, Long Beach, this type of energy is longer lasting and has a more positive effect on your body. It will probably come as no surprise that this article cites yoga and Pilates as examples of exercise that can boost “calm energy”. Yogis believe that the breath moves subtle energies through the body. There are similar ideas in many ancient medical techniques. Certain breathing practices combined with yoga postures can change or balance your energy levels. Both yoga and Pilates emphasize the combination of movement, breathing and focus. After practicing you might notice that you feel calmer and less agitated but still alert and attentive. This is one more positive benefit of adopting these disciplines when you decide to bring more movement into your life.
Certain types of intense exercise can sometimes deplete energy, at least temporarily. It is important to remember that what is moderate for some is intense for others. This is a further reminder that when you’re first starting out, take it slow. In my experience, people who have not exercised for a while have a tendency to overdo. Remember that the point of exercising is to help you feel better. If you overdo to the point of feeling bad you won’t want to do it again. The best exercise is the one that you do. The lesson of these and other articles is that any movement is better than none.
Both articles stress the need for consistency. The more you do the more you will benefit. As your body adjusts, your conditioning improves and you become more accustomed to the movement, you will begin to notice the difference in the way you feel. Dr. Thayer says, “Even if you think you’re too tired to do anything, get up and walk around the room, and in a couple of minutes you’re going to feel some energy that wasn’t there before. And that may lead you to want to move even more.” As always, the hard part it getting started. Don’t overthink it. Just get up and do it. If you change your mind and sit back down, try again in a few minutes. Any time is a good time to start.