Nov 06, 2014

6 Tips for Getting Energized for a Workout

Walking, laughing, eating dark chocolate—and the other simple pleasures of getting pumped up.

Your Guide to Getting Better: Energy

The other week, we addressed strategies to help you get motivated. Now that your mind is in the game, let’s get your body on board.

Your limbs are aching. You're tired and don’t want to move. Seasonal sicknesses abound: coughing, headaches, runny noses. You've convinced yourself that you want to be healthy and you planned out how to do it, but sometimes it seems like our bodies can’t keep up with our good intentions.

Here’s where you have to push through the reluctance. Of course there are instances where you really do need to give yourself a rest, but more often than not all you need is a little boost to get started.

This is the second entry in our Beat the Blahs: Your Guide to Getting Better series.

In the first article we covered motivation.


Energy Boost: Let’s Get Started

Option 1: Take a walk

The last thing you want to do is move, but know this: a 10-minute walk raises your energy level for 2 hours.

This has undoubtedly been the most successful technique for me to get myself to workout when I’m feeling exhausted. I put on my headphones, get outside, (funny how both going outside and listening to music are also considered energy boosters) and tell myself I’ll be back in 15 minutes. More often than not, I’m itching to start an actual workout after a few songs.

And if I’m not? I tell myself that a 15 minute walk is better than nothing. This usually happens when I’ve gone a week or so without a rest day and my muscles are screaming. At that point, a rest day is probably for the best.

Option 2: Stretch it out

Like we said, movement is good. If you can’t get up for a walk, make stretching a priority. Here’s a list of stretches you can do at your office desk (or your couch...or your bed).

  Illustrations by Shannon Orcutt

Option 3: Eat chocolate

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, we just wrote that. Chocolate has both caffeine and flavonoids which boost alertness and mood. It’s a health food! (Just opt for the dark variety.)

Option 4: Play a game

Taking a quick break to work on a word puzzle, Sudoko, or other brain-teaser has been proven to stimulate cognitive function. These activities release the “feel good” chemical dopamine and keep your mind engaged sans work-related stress.

Just make sure you’re doing something interactive and that you cap your activity at 5 minutes as to not hinder productivity (set an alarm on your phone, it’s easy to get sucked in).

Need a game now? Whip out your phone and download an app from this list.

Option 5: Make a friend

Or talk with the ones you already have. Study subjects felt more awake after a 10 minute social interaction compared to when they remained sedentary over a 3 hour interval.

Good news if you chat with someone funny: laughter has also been shown to increase energy (in addition to lowering stress and anxiety levels).

Option 6: Breathe (actually not an option)

You have to do it anyway, so why not do it in a manner that provides energy inducing benefits? Get the technique here. (Don’t worry, the exercise takes a minute and you can return to breathing normally afterward.)

So there you go: a few simple and quick hacks to get your body primed for activity or even just a more productive workday. Your mind is ready and now your body is too: it’s time to get moving.