Busy, tired, stressed, feeling down, overwhelmed, if I had a dollar for every time…well you know! As a mother, a former teacher, a broke ass university student, an occasional couch potato; I’ve used all the excuses myself but somehow I always find my way back to exercise as a way to cope with anxiety, stress, and even low energy. I’ve mastered the art of the mid-afternoon workout, when my brain and body really just want to shut down, I get up and move! It works too, because while you constantly tell yourself that you are simply too tired to workout, that sedentary life is causing you to be more tired than you would be if you got a little sweaty a few times a week. Regular physical activity actually helps to increase the amount of energy you have for other activities!
6 Reasons Exercise Increases Energy
Studies show that people who exercise regularly have more energy than those who don’t. You don’t need to HAVE energy to exercise, you need to exercise to CREATE energy! There are 6 main reasons why movement can increase your energy and decrease feelings of fatigue or sluggishness:
- Improves Muscular Strength and Endurance
- Delivers Oxygen and Nutrients to your Organs so they Work Better
- Supports Mitochondria Production (energy cells)
- Improves your Digestion and Nutrient Absorption.
- Boosts the Immune System
Improves Muscular Strength and Endurance
When you get stronger and improve the length of time you can exert yourself (endurance), you can, quite simply, move more. Physical activity takes less out of you the more you do it. If your children want to play basketball with you but you haven’t done cardio since college, it’s going to be a tough time. But if you regularly engage in exercise, this becomes a fun rather than daunting family activity.
Delivers Oxygen and Nutrients to your Organs so they Work Better
When you exercise you increase your blood flow helping your blood carry oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. When your vital organs receive more oxygen and nutrients they can do their job more efficiently thereby stealing less of your energy to keep your body functioning optimally and giving you more energy to do the things you want to do.
Supports Mitochondria Production (energy cells)
Our mitochondria or energy cell health is critical to our overall health, they help our vital organs function properly. They are especially important for your cardiac system which requires a lot of energy to work. In fact, mitochondrial dysfunction can cause heart abnormalities. When we exercise, we boost production of our mitochondria cells which regulates metabolic energy and gives our heart and lungs more power to work properly, increasing our overall energy.
Improves Digestion and Nutrient Absorption
Exercise will not directly help your food digest, it is not advisable to exercise immediately after a heavy meal; but overtime, as we increase our cardio and muscular endurance, our body needs less energy to do physical activity and can divert that energy to digesting food. After we eat a meal, our blood sugar increases, exercise also aids in regulating blood sugar which helps us digest our food easily.
Another way in which exercise can help with digestion is by preventing or relieving constipation. When we more efficiently digest food, it moves through our digestive system faster.
Exercise can also help prevent or reduce instances of reflux, diverticular disease, and colon cancer.
If you consistently feel bloated and sluggish after a meal and it takes a long time to digest, you won’t have much energy to exercise, but by being an active person in general, your body will be faster at absorbing the nutrients it needs and putting the rest to waste. If you regularly strength train, you know how fast food gets used up and how often you feel hungry throughout the day.
Boosts the Immune System
We know that regular physical activity is part of a healthy lifestyle for preventing and treating many non-communicable diseases (diabetes, heart disease) as well as physical ailments such as arthritis, lumbar pain, etc. However, more research shows that exercise improves our body’s ability to fight off infectious diseases such as Covid, the common cold, the flu, etc. This is because our body’s response to a virus or bacteria is to fight it, but if our energy is being used up to support regular organ function then we don’t have enough leftover to attack the enemy entering our systems. By exercising , we help our organs function better thus giving our body more energy to fight illness. Getting sick frequently drains the body of energy for days, if our body is more efficient at fighting the illness, we get over it faster, or don’t get sick at all!
Many people feel tired frequently due to feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress, but when we exercise, we release those feel good endorphins which can give you a boost of positive energy to power you through your day. If you struggle with mental health issues, try to bang out a workout before you get drained by the day. For some people a morning workout will help immensely, for others it might be midday, and many enjoy working out in the evening so they are tired out for bedtime. Find a routine that works for you!
It’s Hard but Balance is the Key
So the old adage, “I’m tired because I’m busy, I’m depressed, or stressed is not necessarily true. Of course when we have a lot on our plate, we get tired and overwhelmed, but when we don’t take care of our internal systems and our mental health, our energy deflates leaving us fatigued on the regular.
I often have people ask me, how do I manage everything; being a mom of 2 under 5, running a business, household chores, exercise, and finding time for myself. It’s incredibly hard and I definitely suffer from some stress, and even though my little monster still wakes up every night, I still power through my day because I know that sitting all the time works against my best interests, that not taking 20-45 minutes to workout will make me feel worse. I’m telling you this for perspective, not a “you can do it all too” lecture. We all lead different lives and it’s extraordinarily difficult to manage everything. Balance is the key to life, sometimes we order food, sometimes we eat peanut butter jam sandwiches and sometimes my kid watches too much tv but overall, if we find time to be active together, eat well as a whole, and spend quality time together, then the hardest choices usually work out to be the best choices in the long run.
My final thought for you is:
Imagine spending 3 hours less a week with your family to work on yourself but the time you do spend with them is amplified by your upbeat mood, your energy to do, to play, and to engage. Imagine your children watching you taking care of your health and growing up understanding the importance of movement and self care. How many times are you going to put yourself last before you realize that by neglecting your own self care you are impacting your ability to be truly present.