Surprise! I’ve got a pop quiz for you today.
(Don’t worry – there’s only one question!)
What’s the best thing you can do when you feel mentally challenged and physically tired?
A. Take a 15-minute cat-nap
B. Meditate quietly for 10 minutes
C. Crack open a sugary sports drink
D. Head to the gym
E. None of the above
The answer is…
Your best option for a quick mental tune up – and physical boost – is the exact opposite of what you’d expect… a 10-minute workout!
While it might sound backward to expend energy to get energy… it’s not that strange. Like most things in life, you have to give something to get something. And in this case there’s plenty of scientific evidence to back up the impact exercise has on your energy level.
Literally dozens of studies show that exercise boosts mental clarity and revs up physical energy.
Dr. Mark Moyad – a director at the University of Michigan Medical Center – says exercise kicks up energy by 50 percent… even on the days when you don’t work out!
Get Better Results with Interval Training
NHD panel expert Dr. Jonny Bowden says interval training is one of the best ways to get energized – both mentally and physically.
Interval training uses short bursts of high intensity exercise, followed by longer periods of low intensity exercise. So in other words, exercise at a gentle pace for a while… then exercise hard for a short burst… and then repeat.
“After just 10 minutes of interval training, you should have enough energy to blast through any day,” says Dr. Bowden.
Jump-Starting Your Energy Levels
Jumping rope is another great option for supercharging energy. The motion circulates blood and oxygen… delivering nutrients to your brain and recharging mental and physical energy.
“The jumping motion is stupendously effective for boosting energy,” says Dr. Bowden. “You’ll feel like your energy circuits just got a tune-up and you’ll be amazed at how long it lasts.”
You may remember some wonderful jump-rope exercises in old-time movies… both Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas integrated jump-rope routines into several of their films. And more recently Sylvester Stallone wowed audiences with impressive jump-rope footwork.
But you don’t have to be Rocky Balboa to get a great energy boost from jumping rope. A simple, gentle jump-rope routine really delivers great results.
And you can double your efforts by turning your jump-rope exercise into an interval one. Simply alter the speed of your revolutions for fixed bursts.
Try jumping rope for 10 minutes. Start your jump-rope workout at a slow pace for two minutes… and then kick up your revolutions for 30 seconds. Then slow them down for another 90 seconds… and then speed them up for 30 seconds. Keep it up until your 10 minutes are up. You’ve just completed a great 10-minute interval training routine!
Try One of These 10-Minute Workouts
Ten-minute workouts are great for boosting both health and energy.
“The biggest obstacle to the 10-minute workout [is] in your mind,” says Dr. Bowden. “It’s the idea that if you only do 10 minutes, it doesn’t count. But it does.”
By making your workout a high-intensity one, you can really make good health gains in just 10 minutes. And short interval workouts are great for boosting your energy throughout the day.
Take your pick from one of the following 10-minute workouts. You’ll be surprised by the results.
This workout requires no gym membership… no home equipment… and no lengthy time commitment. All you need is a clock and just 10 minutes per session!
- Walk in place for one minute.
- Jump rope for one minute.
- Do as many pushups as you can for one minute.
- Do as many crunches as you can for one minute.
- Jump rope for two minutes.
- Do another round of pushups for one minute.
- Do another round of crunches for one minute.
- Jump rope for one minute.
- Walk in place for one minute.
The following is a basic interval-training exercise. You can vary it as much as you like to make further progress… (More about that in a moment.)
- Walk for 90 seconds, picking up pace as you go.
- Run for one 30-second burst.
- Walk at an even pace for another 90 seconds.
- Kick it up to another 30-second run.
- Walk for another 90 seconds.
- Run for 30 seconds.
- Walk for 90 seconds.
- Run for 30 seconds.
- Finally, slow to a walk for two minutes… decreasing your pace gradually until you come to a stop.
If you find this too challenging at first… switch your runs to fast walks. Gradually turn one fast walk per exercise into a run. And then another as you increase your fitness.
Once you get used to this exercise you can continue making progress. Simply pick up the pace of the run… and the walks.
Exercise # 3
The final exercise is a very simple, low-intensity option. This is a perfect workout to get your energy flowing but not your sweat! Beat that afternoon crash without offending your work colleagues!
- March in place for two minutes.
- Vertical Push-Up: Stand at arm’s length from a wall. Keeping your elbows at shoulder level, place both hands against the wall, shoulder-width apart. Lean into the wall, bending your elbows as you come forward… and straightening them out as you push back. Try to do 10-12 reps.
- Squats: Stand one foot away from a chair, facing away from it. Bend at your knees, lean forward and bend – keeping your back straight – until you are seated in the chair. Rest for a second, place your hands on your thighs, and push off using your legs… and stand. Try to do 8-12 reps.
- Crunches: Sit on a desk, bench, or other straight surface. Cup your ears with your hands. Bring your left knee up and across to your right elbow. Pause, tighten your ab muscles, and return to your starting position. Bring your right knee up and across to your left elbow. Pause, tighten your ab muscles, and return to your starting position. Try to repeat 6–10 times.
- Do 10-12 more wall push-ups.
- Do 8-12 more squats.
- And finally march in place for two minutes.
While researching this article, I gave each of the workouts a shot. I tried out each one over three consecutive days, during my lunch hour… and I particularly enjoyed the first workout. I thought it had a good mix of movement and body-weight exercises. It was short enough to squeeze into my lunch hour and didn’t leave me sweaty when I got back in the office.
You can take your pick from any of these exercises. Choose the exercise routine that you find most convenient and most enjoyable. If you like, you can also mix up the routines during your week for a wider range of exercise.
Further Reading: The Science behind the Theory
Many studies support the exercise-for-energy theory. The prestigious National Center for Biotechnology Information published one study that showed resistance training in older adults significantly kicked up their energy levels.
Another study, published just last year, showed that minimal resistance training – as little as 10 minutes per session – “resulted in a chronic increase in energy.”
There’s some cutting-edge science behind the theory. When we exercise, we get our blood flowing – to our muscles and our brains. When blood flows to our brains… they grow new cells, neurons, and molecules. One of those molecules is called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
BDNF dramatically affects energy. It also balances hormones, blood sugar, anxiety, and stress.
Dr. Bowden says BDNF is both our buffer – and best defense – against the energy-draining stresses of daily life.
And what stimulates BDNF? The short answer is… exercise!
But, just as exercise turns on BDNF production… the stress hormone cortisol turns it off. The more stress you’re under, the less BDNF you make… and the more mentally and physically drained you feel.
“Mice with decreased levels of BDNF can’t find their way out of a paper bag,” says Dr. Bowden. “Either because they can’t think or because they don’t have the energy to explore. Exercise beefs up BDNF [and] improves learning [and] thinking.”
Harvard Medical School Professor John Ratey says exercise improves energy and boosts our mental focus in three ways…
- It binds nerve cells together, which Ratey says is “the cellular basis for logging in new info.”
- It promotes the creation of new nerve cells from stem cells.
- It improves focus and makes us more alert.
What those three points add up to is this: Exercise kicks up your energy and, according to Ratey, “invigorates you mentally and physically.”
To your health,
NHD “Health Watch”