By Emily Turnbull, Personal Trainer and Energy Coach, www.sweatandglow.co.uk
Having more energy is almost always near the top of my clients’ wishlists when they first come to see me. For most of us, life is very busy and at times stressful, and after a while, our energy levels can start to suffer But you don’t have to spend your days feeling like you are dragging your feet and relying on sugar and caffeine to get you through. Your lifestyle choices largely determine your energy levels – the food you eat, the amount and quality of sleep you are getting, how frequently you are exercising and whether you take time out to relax and unwind all play a crucial role in how much energy you have. Here are my top 5 daily habits to help get your energy levels where you want them to be:
1. Sort your sleep out – getting a good amount of sleep, ideally 7-8 hours every night, will definitely help you feel more energised. Your body also loves and needs routine when it comes to sleep. So try to wake up and go to bed at a similar time every day, give or take half an hour. You are best to avoid the temptation to have long lie-ins at the weekend or on your days off (although there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a cup of tea and reading the paper in bed if you have that luxury). If you’ve had a late night, you are better to have a nap later in the day to catch up on sleep rather than snooze all morning which will throw your body clock out. And switch those screens off at least an hour before bedtime.
2. Stay hydrated – it amazes me how little water some people drink. If you are not drinking enough water, you will feel tired and possibly experience a range of other unpleasant symptoms. Did you know our bodies lose between 4 and 9 cups of water every day just by carrying out basic functions like breathing, sweating and going to the toilet? So it’s vital to drink enough water. You should aim for between 6 to 8 glasses of water per day spread throughout the day. The easiest way to make sure you are drinking enough water is to buy a big reusable water bottle, fill it up and keep drinking from it throughout the day. Stick to plain old H2O for maximum benefits as sugary drinks and too much caffeine will play havoc with your energy levels.
3. Avoid the blood sugar rollercoaster – to have good energy throughout the day, you need to keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible. Limit sugary food and drinks as these spike your blood sugar levels up and bring them crashing down not long afterwards. If you regularly experience mid-afternoon energy slumps, it might be time to reconsider what you are eating for lunch. Try swapping the sandwich meal deal for something containing wholegrain carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fat (such as avocado, nuts or seeds, olive oil) and lots of veg. If you normally finish your lunch with something sweet, have a piece of fresh fruit instead of a chocolate bar or biscuits. It’s really important not to go too long without eating during the day as this causes your blood sugar levels to drop and your energy levels will start to suffer. Skipping meals and eating too little will also leave you feeling hungry and drained of energy – if you’ve been on a calorie limited diet, you’ll know the feeling all too well. Three healthy meals, two small healthy snacks, plenty of water and regular exercise is a pretty good formula for most people.
4. Move more – this is particularly important if you have a job where you sit for long periods. Get up from your desk and walk around at least once an hour, ideally outside as fresh air does wonders for boosting your energy levels. Exercise is an incredible energy booster, even on the days when you don’t feel like doing it. Aim for between 4 and 5 exercise sessions per week lasting between 30 and 60 minutes. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just something that gets your heart pumping and your muscles working. On the other 2 to 3 days, do something active – even if it’s just a couple of 10 minute walks each day or a cycle into town.
5. Recharge your batteries – most people are on the go all day long and they don’t take time out to properly recharge. Each day aim to spend 15 minutes when your focus is on switching off and doing something enjoyable, something that is proper “you” time. Scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed might feel relaxing but it doesn’t help you switch off and unwind. So put your phone away and find something else to do. Everyone has different things they like to do to unwind – it could be going for a walk, having a coffee with a friend, reading, gardening, drawing or painting or listening to music. Find what works for you and schedule it in to your day.
If you feel like your fitness and energy levels need a boost, get in touch via my website www.sweatandglow.co.uk. You can follow me on Facebook @sweatandglowuk and on Instagram @energisewithemily