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The weather is getting crisper, and the leaves are starting to fall. And you probably want to get outside and have fun with your children and grandchildren. Whether it’s raking leaves, going apple picking, or playing a game of touch football, you’ll need all the energy you can muster. Here are five fixes when fatigue strikes.
1. Take a walk
Walking can do much more than just prevent heart disease. Research at California State University found the more people walked every day, the more energetic they felt. And the better their overall mood, happiness, and self-esteem.1 Not too shabby! Start with a 10-minute walk before breakfast, then add five minutes or so every week.
If you’re feeling rundown during the day, five minutes of any aerobic activity should help. It forces you to take deep breaths, getting more oxygen to the brain, and helps to push the blood through your body. Try a few jumping jacks or knee lifts.
2. Snag a better snack
Your first instinct may be to reach for some high-sugar, high-carb food like chips or a candy bar. And while they will give you a quick energy boost, in the long-run they’ll do exactly the opposite of what you want them to. Foods with refined sugars will make your blood glucose spike quickly, then crash quickly, making you feel like you need a nap.
A better choice is a healthy mix of carbs, protein and fat to give you sustained energy. Try an apple with a smear of almond butter, some carrots with hummus, or trail mix made with nuts and berries. Make sure you have something in your system every three to four hours to keep blood sugar from dropping.
3. Put on some weights
That’s not a typo — as you get older, you lose muscle mass every year. After age 30, you begin to lose as much as three percent to five percent per decade. This means you’re not as strong, so doing everything takes more out of you than it used to. And you’re more at risk for injury. A university study in Switzerland involving over 900 participants found that people with lower muscle mass have a greater likelihood of having a fracture from a fall, regardless of their bone density.2
However, the loss of muscle mass isn’t completely inevitable. You can help reverse the decline by doing resistance training. Map out a training program with 8 to 10 exercises that target all the major muscle groups. Do two sets of 10 to 12 reps, slowly and with proper form. If you’ve never worked out with weights before, get the thumbs up from your doctor and set up a personal training session or two with a professional trainer to make sure you’re doing things safely and properly. See how quickly you wake up!
4. Laugh a little
Laughter increases your heart rate, which moves more oxygenated blood throughout your body. The more oxygen you have, the more energy you have. Laughter also feels good physically and can counteract the negative thinking that might be killing your energy. Listen to some Abbott and Costello any time you’re feeling sluggish.
5. Make sure you’re getting enough B
B vitamins are the biochemical sparkplugs that keep all cells in your body — from head to toe — working at peak performance. So make sure you’re energized every day with ENDUR-B® Complex SR. This balanced, high-potency formula provides all 8 essential B vitamins with a serious advantage: sustained release delivery. Thanks to our proprietary vegetable-based wax matrix, each tablet delivers a slow and steady release of these energizing vitamins over a five- to seven- hour period for optimal absorption and tissue retention.*
1. Thayer RE, Biakanja B, O’Hanian P, et al. Amount of daily walking predicts energy, mood, personality, and health. Paper presented at: Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association; 2005; Washington DC.
2. Hars M, Biver E, Chevalley T, et al. Low lean mass predicts incident fractures independently from FRAX: a prospective cohort study of recent retirees. J Bone Miner Res. 2016;31(11):2048-2056. PMID: 27253633.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
There’s no question that exercise is good for you. But sometimes, exercise can lead to pain and stiffness throughout the body. That may be because you’re doing too much, doing things improperly, or choosing the wrong exercises. The pounding and hammering that certain high-impact activities put on joints can make anyone feel sore.
But that doesn’t mean you have to hang up your cross-trainers. Just the opposite. Exercise can strengthen muscles and help control your weight, which can help you feel less achy 24/7. But oh, the irony. Exercising too much can make you feel achy. But you need to exercise to feel less achy!
So what to do? First off, it’s crucial to ease into whatever activity you’re doing with about five minutes of easy movement. That gets the blood flowing to your muscles, tissues, and tendons so they’ll be ready to go. Cooling down on the backend is just as important, to gradually reduce the temperature of all your muscles, diminishing stiffness and soreness.
Hydration is also essential. Your body needs water to regulate body temperature, transport nutrients throughout the body, and lubricate joints. If you don’t drink enough, you may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, or more serious symptoms. (To help your body absorb the water you’re drinking, consider taking Replace® SR Sustained Release Electrolytes.)
Lastly, choosing the right exercise is key. Here are some of our favorite that are easy on the joints.
Just because you don’t break out in a sweat doesn’t mean your body isn’t working hard. Swimming is a whole-body workout, exercising your heart, increasing endurance, improving muscle strength, and increasing flexibility. And because you’re in the water there’s absolutely no banging on the joints. An added bonus: because it’s just you and the water, there are no distractions from the outside world. The repetition of the strokes and paddling up and down the length of the pool can be very soothing and meditative.
Make no mistake. Yoga is not only good for improving flexibility and muscle tone, it’s also good for keeping your heart healthy. Yoga postures involve deep breathing and can put you into a meditative state, which can help lower stress and blood pressure. And the postures can benefit your heart just as conventional exercise, such as brisk walking, can. In one meta-analysis of 32 randomized controlled studies, Harvard researchers found that, compared to non-exercisers, adults who practice asana- or posture-based yoga not only have significantly better blood pressure, but significantly better blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels (and a healthier body weight!).
Building strong muscles around the joints to support and protect them from injury without putting any strain on the joints … What could be better? Don’t be intimidated by the name. Resistance training, toning, and weight training are all the same thing. The key is to work your muscles by using opposing force. That could be working with dumbbells, barbells, exercise machines, resistance bands, or even cans of soup!
Always make sure to do things slowly and with proper form. If you’ve never lifted weights before, a session or two with a personal trainer can help set you up for success.
An added bonus for those who find that losing weight or keeping it off gets more difficult with age, strength training can help. Muscle burns more calories than any other tissue in the body, so you’ll be burning more calories all day (and night) long. And since muscle takes up much less space than fat, putting on a pound of muscle while taking off a pound of fat will make you look more toned.
Now, get out there and go pain free!
If you’re over 30, you have a problem. Starting at that age, most people lose muscle each year — sometimes as much as five percent if you’re not physically active — as the body starts tearing down old muscle at a faster rate than it can build new.
A host of reasons can be blamed for sarcopenia (science-speak for the age-related loss of muscle mass), including a reduced ability to use protein to support and produce muscle, fluctuating hormones, the loss of nerve cells responsible for sending signals to the muscles, and, for many, reduced physical activity.
This can be devastating. Losing muscle mass means losing strength. Sure, playing a round of golf may be harder. But even simple things like taking your groceries out of the cart or opening a jar of pickles will be more difficult as well. The loss of muscle mass can also lead to some dangerous consequences, including decreased bone mass, increased risk of fractures, insulin resistance, and disability.
But aging doesn’t have to equal sarcopenia. In addition to resistance exercise at least twice a week, you should also be adding plenty of protein into your diet. The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of muscle. And while the RDA for protein for adults is about 10 grams of protein for every 25 pounds of body weight per day, that may not be enough, especially as you get older.
One study found that people who ate twice the current RDA for protein had the most success at building muscle.1 And it didn’t take long to see protein’s muscle-boosting effect. In the study, participants had higher rates of protein synthesis within just four days.
Low-fat dairy, ﬁsh, lean meats, and dried beans and legumes are all good, healthy sources of protein for meals. Protein-rich snacks include hard-boiled eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and hummus.
Whether as a main meal or a snack, dried beans are an especially great protein to add. Whatever your favorite — black, kidney, navy, lima, garbanzo, pinto, or white — they all deliver an impressive 7 grams of protein per one-half cup, cooked. That’s as much as an ounce of meat.
To help you add some beans into your life, here’s a recipe for Three Bean Thing on page 147 of Good Food, Great Medicine. You can use any beans you like but these are sturdy and still look fresh a week later. If the onion is mild, use 2 cups. Diced bell pepper of any color is a good addition (and traditional, too) if you have some.
Makes about 5 cups
- 1–2 cups sweet onion, sliced in strips no more than ¼-inch x 1-inch
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon freshly crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans
- 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- 1 can (15 ounces) cut green beans
1. Combine onion with oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper, and set aside. (This marinates the onions slightly, and makes them taste milder if they are hot. If onions are mild, I always use at least 2 cups to balance the beans.)
2. Drain and rinse kidney beans and chickpeas and set aside in colander to drain thoroughly. (Tossing beans in the colander with a dry paper towel helps.)
3. Drain green beans. (S&W cut green and yellow wax beans are a pretty combination.) Combine all drained beans with onions in dressing and mix well.
Reprinted with permission from Good Food, Great Medicine (3rd edition), by Miles Hassell, MD and Mea Hassell © 2014. goodfoodgreatmedicine.com.
1. Kim IY, Schutzler S, Schrader A, et al. Quantity of dietary protein intake, but not pattern of intake, affects net protein balance primarily through differences in protein synthesis in older adults. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2015;308(1):E21-E28. PMID: 25352437.