10 simple ways to get more energy

Tired of feeling tired? Learn how to get more energy with these tips to boost your energy levels, without resorting to caffeine.

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This story was originally titled "10 Top Energy Boosters" in the November 2007 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

It’s 3 p.m. and you’re only halfway through your to-do list, but until you get a caffeine or sugar fix all you can think about is a nap. Tired of feeling tired? Join the club. Health experts say we’re suffering from a nationwide energy crisis sparked by lifestyles that leave us hurried, harried and running on empty. Instead of fuelling up on coffee and chocolate bars, try these healthy, energy-boosting tips.

1. Clock more z’s

It’s no surprise that energy starts with a good night’s sleep, but in today’s busy world, we’re shortchanging ourselves by about 90 minutes a night, says Dr. David Posen, a columnist for Canadian Living Magazine, author of The Little Book of Stress Relief and a stress consultant in Oakville, Ont. Adults need eight to nine hours a night to restore and regenerate their minds and bodies, while children need 10 to 12 hours, and teens nine to 10.

Energy-boosting tip: Head to bed a half-hour earlier for the next few nights, then add another half-hour for a few nights. Continue adding to your sleep until you can wake up without an alarm, feeling refreshed.

2. Get moving
When you’re too tired to even think straight, exercising is probably the last thing you want to do, but you have to spend energy to get energy, says Robert Reid, an expert in physical activity patterns and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. The good news is that any activity that gets your heart pumping for more than 10 minutes will increase oxygen to your system and give you more get-up-and-go.

Energy-boosting tip: "Snack" on fitness throughout the day, advises Reid. A brisk 10-minute walk at lunch, 10 minutes of active play with your kids after work, 10 minutes of walking the dog after dinner – it all counts toward Health Canada’s recommended 30 to 60 minutes of activity a day. Keep at it for eight to 10 weeks and watch your energy levels soar (but don’t stop after 10 weeks).

3. Pay attention to your breathing
“We tend to take short, shallow breaths through our mouths and we hold our breath without realizing it, especially when we’re stressed,” says Angie Birt, a yoga instructor and psychology professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. If that’s your breathing pattern, you’re depriving your body of oxygen – and less oxygen means less energy.

Energy-boosting tip: Concentrate on deep breathing a few times a day. Breathe slowly and deeply in and out through your nose – both to a count of at least five. Work up to longer intervals as you go along; feel your chest rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Eventually, you’ll do this automatically throughout the day and it will make a huge difference to your state of mind and energy level.

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