A common excuse for skipping the gym is "feeling tired." You may think exercise will add to your fatigue—but recent research suggests the opposite is true. According to a study reported by Science Daily, researchers at the University of Georgia have found that low-intensity exercises, such as walking or biking at a relaxed pace, may decrease symptoms of fatigue by up to 65 percent. You'll likely feel more energized if you add some low-intensity exercise to your day--and you may be surprised how easily you can squeeze it into your routine.
Exercise and Energy: What's the Connection?
So, why does exercise lead to more energy? The US Department of Health & Human Services sums it up simply. Your cardiovascular system is in charge of sending oxygen to your organs and cells. But sometimes, the system can slow down--like if you've been hunched over a computer for hours. It might seem like the last thing you want to do is exercise, but your body is actually begging for it. When you exercise, your respiratory and cardiovascular system gets a tune up. Oxygen starts flowing to your organs and cells faster, giving you a boost in energy.
The Lowdown on Low-Intensity Exercise
There's no "best" low-intensity exercise. Low-intensity simply means doing an exercise at a relaxed pace. If you already exercise at a moderate or high-intensity level, there's no need to cut back. But, if you are just starting to exercise, you may find it easier to begin at a lower level of intensity.
When choosing an exercise, focus on activities that aren't too stressful for your body. More importantly, think about what you enjoy doing. You'll be more likely to stick with a new activity if you like it. Consider trying:
- Walking, either on a flat surface or on an incline
- Yoga, Pilates and certain dance classes, such as salsa or jazz
- Climbing stairs at a comfortable pace
It's important to consider your current fitness level when picking an activity. If you're considering a class, such as dance or Pilates, you will usually have the opportunity to choose between different levels.
If you don't think you have the time to add exercise to your routine, think again. Many people have heard that you need to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day--but there's a loophole. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), your 30 minutes of daily exercise don't have to be consecutive. This means that you can break your fitness time into more easily digestible chunks. There are countless ways to get your daily 30 minutes:
- Choose to park farther from your workplace and enjoy a 15 minute walk
- Spend 20 minutes in the evening playing tag with your kids
- Get off the bus a stop or two early to add a 10 minute walk
- Pay 20 minutes of extra attention to your home with an active chore, like sweeping
- If you eat out for lunch, choose a restaurant that requires a brisk 10 minute walk
- Relax for 20 minutes in the evening with a soothing activity like yoga or tai chi--just pop on an exercise video or click here [LINK: http://www.ge-healthahead.com/article/982?] for some basic moves
Fitting regular exercise into your daily routine can be easy--and it doesn't always require driving to the gym or buying fancy workout clothes. All you really need is a pair of comfortable shoes. Moreover, exercising at a low-intensity won't cause you to sweat up a storm, so you may not need to change or shower.
Regular exercise may provide benefits beyond a boost in your energy levels. The US Department of Health & Human Services reports that regular exercise may help control or reduce the main risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high glucose levels, diabetes, and being overweight. Exercise may also benefit people who are coping with health issues. The National Institutes of Health note that exercise may ease the symptoms of inflammatory disorders, such as arthritis. The National Cancer Institute reports that exercises like walking may even help cancer patients "feel better and have more energy."
If you haven't exercised in a long time, it's wise to check with your doctor before jumping into a new fitness regime. However, the majority of people in good health may benefit from low-intensity exercise.
HealthAhead Hint: Start Moving
Are you ready to get started? Remember that you don't need fancy workout clothes, oodles of free time, or a gym membership to start a low-intensity exercise routine. If you often hear yourself saying, "I'm too tired," then it's time to find out if exercise might help. It's counter-intuitive, but exercise may give your energy levels a significant boost. Just 30 minutes per day, five days per week, is all it takes--and remember that chasing your kids around the backyard counts, too.