Endorphins are “feel good” hormones; once your blood is infused with a dose of exercise-induced endorphins, you’ll feel more alert, positive and energetic. Over time, exercise is also a mood elevator, lifting individuals out of their mental as well as physical slumps.
Exercise also increases the body’s metabolic rate–burning fat cells in order to release energy. This process has a lasting effect and, as an added bonus, a consistent exercise program will result in reduced fat stores and increased muscle mass, which will eventually raise your resting metabolic rate.
Exercises That Boost Energy Levels
Currently, experts recommend that adults aim for 30-minutes of exercise-oriented activity every day, or at least four days per week. But even smaller snippets of movement can have positive results in terms of energy boosting. If the weather is nice, try to incorporate exercises that get you outdoors since sunlight–and the increased dose of vitamin D the sun delivers–are also known to boost energy levels.
Here are a few examples of how to boost energy using exercise. They all require 30-minutes or less and will get the heart rate up, increase circulation and metabolism, and make you feel energetic both during and afterwards.
Exercise 1: Give Yourself a Boost With Gentle Yoga
Contrary to popular belief, yoga doesn’t require you to become a pretzel. In fact, many beginning poses are extremely gentle and they shouldn’t cause any strain. Rather, they allow you to focus on your breath, increasing oxygenation in the bloodstream and muscles, while simultaneously activating various muscle groups throughout the body.
The result is that a few, simple and easy postures yield a healthy boost of energy and a more relaxed and focused state of mind. Start with Spinal Flex and Camel Ride. This sequence only requires 3-minutes, but it engages your spine, which activates energy throughout your body.
Step One – Assume Your Starting Position: Find a comfortable spot on the floor where you have room to completely stretch out (you never know what yoga stretches might call to you next…). Sit in a cross-legged position (Easy Pose). Take a few deep breaths as you elongate your spine into a relaxed but straight posture and settle your “sitting bones” into the mat or carpet below you.
Step Two – Spinal Flex: Now, wrap your hands around your shins or calves. Inhale and lift your chest out and up, using the tension of your hands on your legs to achieve an engaged posture without strain.
Step Three – Camel Ride: Release this posture and slowly exhale as you relax/curve the upper-portion of your spine and drop the chin to your chest. Even your arms will relax and bend at the elbows while the backs of the hands drop down toward the mat.
Step Four – Repeat With Increased Intensity: Continue repeating this cycle – inhale and lift/exhale and curve, dropping chin to chest, with increased intensity and pace.
Repeat the series for at least three minutes and you will enjoy an instant recharge. Other yoga poses that are easy to do on your own and increase energy include Warrior Pose, Tree Pose and Cat Pose. For a more vigorous energy boost, try Downward Facing Dog.
Exercise 2: Walk & Jog & Walk Again
This is a one-size-fits all workout. It gets you outside (or onto an indoor track if weather is a challenge), and is appropriate no matter where you’re at in terms of endurance and fitness. If you opt to skip the jogging phase, that’s fine. If you’re working towards becoming a runner or to participate in a local 5K or 10K, a walk-jog program can serve as a fantastic starting ground.
Step One – Chart Your Course: First, chart a course that is inspiring to you, whether it’s around a favorite lake or through an attractive neighborhood. Grab a cheap stopwatch if you don’t already have one.
Step Two – Start at the Beginning: In a true “walk-jog” training regime, longer walking intervals are interspersed with shorter jogging intervals. After 12-weeks of training three-days, then four-days and then five-days a week, you’ll be able to jog for about 45-minutes without stopping. In the beginning, however, see where you’re at. Make sure you can walk comfortably for 20 minutes. If not, start there. If so, add a jogging phase into the mix.
Step Three – Walk & Jog: Once you can walk comfortably for a solid 20-minutes it’s time to introduce jogging. Begin walking (slowly at first to warm up) for four-minutes and then jog slowly for one-minute (4:1). This added burst of jogging gets your heart rate up, and it will remain elevated even when you return back to a walking pace again.
Repeat this interval four separate times and then walk home or back to your car. Do some gentle stretching afterwards. Within a few weeks, feel free to play around with adding extra sequences. You can also intensify the intervals by reducing walking times while increasing jogging times. For example, move to 4:2 and 3:2 intervals.
Exercise 3: Dance It Up To Boost Energy
Dancing is a fantastic form of exercise, but many shy away from it because they are too self-conscious to use their moves on a public dance floor or to take a group dance exercise class. But, guess what? You don’t need a dance floor or a public audience to dance.
Enjoy your own calorie-burning, energy boosting, solo dance party at home (an even better idea? Invite your kids to join you and get an exercise-oriented energy boost of their own). According to health.com, dancing energetically burns about 221 calories in 30-minutes. If you’re inspired to buy a Zumba or similarly-themed dance exercise video, you can burn even more calories.
Step One – Create the Playlist: Makeup a playlist that starts out on the slower side to get you warmed up. Incorporate 15- to 20-minutes of up-tempo songs, and get into the full-blown dance groove. Then, taper it down again for the final five-minutes so muscles have a chance to cool down. Latin and Bollywood music genres are a great place to search online or on Pandora if you can’t assemble an adequate playlist from your own music collection.
Step Two – Start Dancing. Turn down the lights if you need to and do what it takes to create the right atmosphere. Then, pump up the jams (wear earphones and strap the music player to your sleeve if volume control is an issue) and start dancing. Let your body go and really shake it loose.
Step Three – Engage the Whole Body. Make sure to wave your arms in the air, shake those hips (to work those abs) and engage the whole body so every muscle group benefits from your fun, high-energy workout.
Energy Boosting Exercises At Your Own Pace
If you’re new to the idea of using exercise to boost energy levels, start with the simple Gentle Yoga boost. Use it each day to foster a higher energy vibration. Then, try having a dance party with yourself when the coast is clear.
The more you exercise, the more energy you will have and the more your body will get used to an elevated activity level. Once that’s the case, you’ll feel compelled to add higher impact activities – like walk-jogging to your routine.
None of these energy boosting exercises requires more than 30-minutes of your time, but all of them will boost energy levels for hours afterwards.