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As we age, it’s quite common to discover that our energy levels are no longer what they used to be, that our “get up and go” can need a kick start to get it going each morning.
And even when it’s going, that our battery can drain far more quickly than in our more youthful days.
But don’t let this get you down: there is so much you can do to boost those energy levels and look after your body into the bargain. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at some ideas which can help in combating the tiredness and fatigue some of us may be experiencing.
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It’s all too easy to pile on the pounds as we get older, particularly if our work life is sedentary, involves a lot of driving or we arrive home too tired in the evening to even begin to think about engaging in any meaningful exercise. Believe it or not though, it really isn’t difficult to drop a few of those excess pounds simply by taking small steps. These steps can begin by reducing the size of meal portions: just declining the extra roast potato or Yorkshire pudding on a regular basis can make a difference. As can going for low fat versions of things we love on our favourite puddings such as full fat custard, yoghurt and cream.
Finishing a meal full but not “stuffed” leaves us too with the energy we need to engage in some exercise post-meal time: a leisurely stroll round the block, a cycle ride into the countryside, perhaps a swim or game of tennis with a friend. Not only hugely beneficial in terms of shedding some of those excess pounds but also for our mental health and wellbeing too. “Mens sana in corpore sano” – a healthy mind in a healthy body – as the ancient adage goes and achieving this will undoubtedly boost our energy levels too.
2. Keeping Hydrated
Dehydration saps energy: one of the first signs that our body is short on fluids is that it begins to flag. Drinking pure and simple water regularly throughout the day not only ensures we remain hydrated but also enhances our performance and boosts energy too. Many of us yearn for that first coffee of the morning to give us the caffeine kick we need to start our day.
Whilst caffeine doubtlessly stimulates alertness and boosts our energy levels, we need to use it cautiously and avoid drinking too much too often, however much we crave it. Coffee can in fact fuel a vicious circle: sleeplessness – caffeine boost – energy – slump – caffeine boost – sleeplessness. It’s important that we don’t over imbibe on it and that we avoid after 2pm at the latest.
“A little and often” should be our rule of thumb if we are concerned about our energy levels. Small meals and healthy snacks every few hours rather than three substantial meals per day will keep our brain supplied with all the nutrients it needs and evade that feeling of fatigue that overcomes us after each and every big meal. Waiting too long between meals can also lower blood sugar levels causing us to flag as the day progresses.
Portion controlled, balanced small meals will not avoid weight gain but will also stabilise our blood sugar levels. Look for foods containing complex carbohydrates such as beans, peas, nuts, vegetables and grains, along with healthy whole foods such as eggs, fish, berries and leafy greens as these will fill you more quickly and keep you energised for longer. They will also provide all the vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium needed whilst getting out and catching some rays will boost vitamin D levels too.
We need to develop a healthy sleep routine and remember to turn off the laptop, TV, smartphone a good time before heading to bed, however alien that may feel. We need too to go to bed at the same time each evening and wake at the same time the following day. If our sleep patterns have become disturbed and erratic, we need to re-educate our body clock in terms of how to stay asleep; this can mean aiming for less sleep in the first instance.
A first step is to cut out the mid-afternoon or early evening “power nap”: this is truly when we must “power through” and keep going so that when we finally get into bed, we are so tired that we can do nothing other than fall asleep. Ideally, we should aim for 4 hours’ undisturbed sleep as we start our new sleep routine and when that works we can incrementally and gradually add another 15 or 30 minutes as and when we feel our body clock has adapted.
Exercise really mustn’t stop as we get older. So yes, we may be a bit slower than we used to be but we’ve still got so much living to do. If the onset of creaky joints makes past forms of exercise and sport more difficult, find alternatives such as cycling or swimming.
Consider too joining a gym or developing a workout routine you can practise at home each day either before or after work. Regular exercise will not only boost your energy and fitness levels but will lift your mood too: just 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking, gardening, biking or dancing 4 to 5 times per week will work wonders. But if that is too much in the first instance, 10 to 15 minutes each day is an ideal place to start.
And of course, exercise doesn’t have to be purely of the physical kind to re-energise ourselves. We need to keep our minds active and alert too: do puzzles, join a book group, learn a musical instrument, develop a new hobby, volunteer for a project in the community that has always interested you, get out and socialise.
Whatever it is that you do, enjoy it for it is in the enjoyment that you will find energy too.
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