Fitness + Well-being

Denise Austin's Easy Ways to Boost Energy


 (Associated Press)

Summer is almost over and fall is right around the corner. You know what that means? Back to school for the kids — and back to packing lunches, helping with homework, and carpooling for you.

I know this can definitely be a stressful time as you get back into your fall routine. At the end of the day, you’re probably feeling wiped out and in need of a major energy boost. Believe me, I can relate! But there are EASY ways for you to stay energized and healthy so you can tackle it all.

These energy-boosting tips are simple and easy, but you’ll feel the benefits all day long. Here are a few of my favorite ways to feel invigorated and refreshed during the busiest days:

Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. This one may seem obvious, but if you’re not well rested, you’ll feel worn out before your day even starts. Having trouble sleeping? Do something relaxing before bed like taking a bath, reading a book, or talking quietly with your significant other or kids. Avoid watching the news or violent television shows or movies before bed. They are anything BUT calming! One last tip that may be the hardest: Completely unplug. Put away the laptop and charge your phone on the opposite side of the room so you’re not tempted to keep checking it. Working on your laptop or smart phone in bed can get in the way of your sleep.

Start moving! Exercise is one of the best ways to help you feel more alert and have more energy — and you don’t have to run marathons to reap the benefits. Simply find some time throughout the day to go for a walk or work out to a DVD, like my latest, "Fat Burning Walk" (out on Sept. 3!), a complete 30-minute walking workout. Walking is my favorite form of exercise — it’s so easy and you can do it anywhere! Take a walk during your lunch break or go on an evening stroll with your family. Any form of exercise will reduce stress, burn calories and help you keep your energy levels up.

Stay hydrated. Every cell in our bodies needs water to function properly, so it makes sense that if you’re dehydrated, you’re probably feeling exhausted, too. Whenever I feel my energy starting to fade, I pour a large glass of cold water — it wakes me right up! For an extra energy boost, add a slice of lemon, lime or another citrus fruit to your water. Research has proven that scents of citrus and peppermint can make you feel more energized and alert. Pretty amazing, right? I like to keep a lemon or lime in my fridge at all times.

Make sure you always eat breakfast. When you first wake up, you’ve probably gone eight hours without eating. You need to give your body some fuel to get a kick start! Breakfast gives our bodies that all important first energy boost so we can make it through the day feeling great! Breakfast doesn’t have to take a lot of time to prepare; there are many easy options you can choose from. Try whole-grain toast with jam, cheese with crackers, a bowl of oatmeal, high-fiber cereal, or low-fat yogurt.

Avoid sugary foods. When you’re feeling completely wiped, it’s so easy to hit the vending machine and grab a sugary snack, like cookies or candy, thinking they’ll give you the boost you need. Yes, at first, these snacks will increase your blood sugar level, so you’ll feel a bit more alert. But soon after, your blood sugar levels will drop — and you’re back to feeling totally drained. From now on, I want you to avoid these sugary snacks, and instead, when you’re feeling tired and hungry, have a snack full of protein and carbs. This combination will keep your energy up and leave you feeling full longer. Some of my favorite snacks include celery and peanut butter, yogurt and fruit, string cheese with fruit, or a hard-boiled egg. These snacks are so easy because you can prepare them ahead of time and just stock them in the fridge!

Some of these energy-boosting behaviors may be hard to get used to at first, but soon enough, it will become a habit to plug in your phone across the room when you go to bed, or stock up on healthy snacks on Sunday. When you have a busy schedule, keeping your energy levels up is crucial. These tips will help you feel alert and on-task at all times!