Posted on 05/05/2016 at 12:00 AM by Embria Health Sciences
By Jennifer McGregor:
In a nation of caffeine addicts, energy is the modern Fountain of Youth. We find ourselves slumping in our seats halfway through our 9-5 workdays, spending hundreds of dollars every year on Starbucks, and braving the taste of a Five-Hour Energy. We are overworked, under-rested, and most importantly, unhealthy, which can lead to a weakened immune system and days stuck in bed. Making a few simple lifestyle changes can greatly improve both energy levels and health.
Your Diet is Your Body’s Source of Fuel
Food is the most important aspect of regaining both health and vigor. Your diet is what determines how much energy you will have throughout the day. A few quick alterations can make a world of difference in your daytime alertness and your ability to focus on the most important tasks at hand.
Plant iron, found in spinach and kale, can be added to your diet to stave off iron deficiency, which is a leading cause of fatigue in adult women. Though red meat contains iron, it is a different variety than what is found in plants and has recently been condemned as unhealthy in large quantities. Plant iron is harder for humans to absorb but is less so when paired with Vitamin C. For example, a spinach salad topped with mandarin oranges can be a tasty source of plant iron.
Also taking care of your immune system is important to your daily health and keeping you up and running. When Vitamin C is not enough, try looking to well-researched ingredients like EpiCor that doesn’t just boost, but strengthens your immune system.
Exercise Reduces Stress and Helps to Beat Fatigue
Exercise is one of those lifestyle changes that takes up valuable time, making it difficult to implement for the average American. Yet exercise is valuable in amplifying one’s energy levels. It doesn’t have to be a 45-minute run every day. Instead, it can be something as simple as a 15-minute powerwalk in the morning or a series of side crunches in your office chair. These activities may be no substitute for a full workout routine but they will noticeably increase your energy levels and decrease your stress.
For those with long term illnesses that may restrict their ability to exercise, a trip to the local pool might be beneficial. Swimming is a great workout with low impact. It has similar benefits to running without the strain on your skeletal structure.
Swimming is recommended for cancer survivors as a way to re-strengthen the body. It increases flexibility and strengthens the heart. It’s also a great way for beginners to start exercising and can be particularly well-suited for overweight individuals, as high-impact exercise like running produces added strain on the bones and joints.
Never Skip Breakfast, but Do Pass on Processed Foods
Waking up early can allow you to eat a full breakfast, which is a key component to daytime alertness. A full breakfast might be as simple as a bowl of plain yogurt with fruit and seeds. It is well-rounded, quick, and energizing as opposed to a hastily consumed highly processed granola bar.
Finally, avoid processed foods. A microwavable cup of noodles is both cheap and quick but provides almost no energy or nutrition. With the busy schedule of most American adults, we tend to shop based on speed of preparation rather than health. Slow cookers can be a life saver for those with tight schedules. Slow cooker meals can be prepared before work and will be ready at dinnertime. They also make for excellent leftovers, eliminating the need for rapid-prepare lunches.
Pet Ownership Benefits the Body and Soul
Owning a pet, particularly a dog, has numerous benefits including stress reduction, mental health improvement, activity level increase, and even a decrease in risk of heart disease. Dogs provide love and attention, mitigating the stress of the American workday. They keep you active with walks, play, and even socialization, encouraging you to stay both physically and mentally engaged.
Going to the dog park and chatting with other pet parents is a way to meet new people and get out of the house. Studies are showing that just having a dog in the house improves your mood and decreases stress and blood pressure. If you spend a lot of time at work and can’t provide a puppy with enough attention, either adopt an elderly dog that will sleep much of the day or a cat. Cats can also be very therapeutic without the need for walks and consistent human interaction.
Overall, lifestyle changes can sound and feel intimidating. But a few quick, easy alterations can provide you with more energy and less stress. Caffeine may be a useful prop, but it certainly should not be your only source of energy. Let your body create its own and live better.
Jennifer McGregor has wanted to be a doctor since she was little. Now, as a pre-med student, she’s well on her way to achieving that dream. She helped create PublicHealthLibrary.org with a friend as part of a class project. With it, she hopes to provide access to trustworthy health and medical resources. When Jennifer isn’t working on the site, you can usually find her hitting the books in the campus library or spending some downtime with her dog at the local park.