You know the feeling well. All day you’ve been looking forward to hitting the gym, but by 3pm, you’re so exhausted you start to wonder whether you’ll be able to drag your butt to the car for the drive home.
Or maybe the only time you can schedule exercise is early morning, but every time that alarm jolts you awake at 5am, you roll over and opt for another hour or two of shut-eye because you’re too pooped to face a new day.
This might sound crazy and counterintuitive, but exercise can give you more energy and cut fatigue in the long run. It’s true: Once you start moving around, your body revs up its energy production to meet this increased demand.
Here are six exercises that will give you the kick in the pants that you need to light a fire under your workout regime — and increase your energy level throughout the day.
Power Walking When you’re tired, you may not feel that you have the energy to take a walk or hop on your favorite cardio machine, but 15 to 20 minutes of sustained motion can increase your overall energy level dramatically.
Low- to moderate-intensity power walking is great. Outdoor walks are even better because the fresh air and sunshine can help you kick daily stress and drudgery to the curb.
Stretching 10 to 15 minutes of stretching per day can help increase flexibility (a vital component of overall fitness), alleviate tension, and refresh your energy levels. Start with large muscle groups first: Stretch back, chest, legs, core, arms, and legs. You don’t have to master any sophisticated form of stretching, just choose movements that stretch out muscles (not to the point of serious discomfort), hold for 20 seconds, and move on to the next body part.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Don’t be scared by this popular training technique. The concept behind HIIT is simple: Perform several movements or exercises at pretty high intensity interspersed with brief recovery periods.
For example: Do two minutes of stretches and crunches on the mat; follow this with two minutes of jumping jacks and running in place; proceed with two minutes of push-ups and planks; hop on the treadmill for five minutes at a moderate pace; hit the weights and do biceps curls and dips off the bench for three minutes; skip rope and hit a speed bag for three minutes; stretch and breathe on the mat to unwind. Rest for three minutes, then, if you’re up to it, repeat the cycle.
Rowing You can’t go wrong with rowing. You can rev up your energy levels and hit every major muscle group. Rowing really is an amazing low-impact workout!
Strength Training Pumping iron can be a daunting prospect when you’re dog tired, but if you stick with the basics (bench presses, military presses, deadlifts, and squats) at a moderate intensity, your body starts producing endorphins that produce a natural high and your energy will soar!
Swimming This is a wonderful low-impact form of cardio that is therapeutic for the joints and soothes tired, sore muscles. Swimming is a surefire way to cool off, relieve stress, and recharge energy levels.