Feeling too tired to plow through your to-dos? It’s not just you. A survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults found that 42% of people feel fatigued as early as noon. The same poll also found that 65% rarely wake up feeling energized.
According to Lifeforce Physician Leah Johansen, MD, ABFM, Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner, staying energized and beating fatigue requires looking at what's sustainable. "At some point, you cannot caffeinate or stimulate your way to enough energy," Dr. Johansen says. So consider what's causing a lack of energy and utilize short- and long-term solutions to counteract it.
Some of these tactics take less than two minutes per day. Here's how to implement them and other physician-backed tips to maximize your energy.
What Causes Fatigue and Low Energy
Fatigue is an umbrella term for an overall lack of energy, stemming from physical and/or mental health issues to lifestyle choices, says Lifeforce Physician Samuel C. Winter, DO. But anything that drains your energy, from unhealthy relationships to too much screen time, could also be a factor.
"Often we skip sleep, ramp up on stress because 'busy' is an accepted 'right-of-passage' per se to our careers, but it is an illusion that this is what makes you important," Dr. Johansen says. So before looking at ways to boost your energy, consider what might be draining it in the first place.
How to Boost Your Energy
Think of your energy like a sponge. People have only so much that they can use each day. Some folks have bathtub sponges, while others have sponges the size of walnuts, according to Dr. Winter.
The long-term solution is getting as much water into that sponge for the next day. And the short-term solutions are how to squeeze the sponge, so you get every last drop of energy out. Keep reading for the best research-backed tactics to boost energy, plus the science behind why it works.
1. Drink Up (Water, That Is)
We could go on and on about the health benefits of good hydration, and research shows that even mild dehydration can affect your energy levels and cause fatigue. That's worrisome seeing as 75% of adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic dehydration.
"To produce energy, you have to be able to absorb nutrients properly," Dr. Johansen says. "Water supports absorption, digestion, and the involvement in metabolic reactions to produce energy."
This makes sense seeing as the human body is 60% water, and the brain and heart are composed explicitly of 73% water, Dr. Johansen notes.
Another study on people who didn't drink enough water regularly found that after boosting their water intake they had more positive emotions and increased wakefulness.
It takes anywhere from five to 20 minutes for your body to absorb water after drinking, research has found.
2. Walk for 10 Minutes
The last thing you probably want to do when you hit a wall is move, but it could make a big difference in boosting your energy — without that third cup of Joe.
One study compared the energizing effect of exercise versus caffeine and found that the impact of walking for 10 minutes on the stairs increased people's mood and perceived energy more than caffeine. That's likely because walking releases hormones that deliver oxygen through the body that help to elevate energy levels.
3. Do a 25-Minute Yoga Flow (Or Hold a Pose for 2 Minutes)
If you want more energy, consider taking a zen approach. Research from Canada found that 25 minutes of Hatha yoga could significantly improve energy levels and mood. The small study had 31 people complete three different tasks: Hatha yoga, a mindfulness meditation, and quiet reading.
The researchers measured energy levels and saw that Hatha yoga sessions reaped more benefits in terms of cognition and energy than reading. The increased blood flow to the brain is one theory from the researchers as to why this could boost energy. Other research has found that the mood-boosting effect of yoga could last as long as two hours.
If 25 minutes seems daunting, know there could be benefits to doing yoga poses for just two minutes. One study compared the benefits of various expansive and constrictive power poses and yoga poses. They found that momentarily performing expansive, standing yoga poses, like the mountain or eagle pose involving a lifted chest, increased peoples' sense of energy, empowerment, and self-esteem the most.
4. Opt for a 10-Minute Nap
Naps can be a powerful way to boost energy. In fact, research has found that opting for a 10-minute nap could result in an immediate boost in alertness and cognitive performance.
Dr. Winter just recommends keeping your naps short. "If you surpass 30 minutes, you go into a deep sleep, which feels bad to awaken out of. And it takes a long time to regain optimal cognition afterward, too," Dr. Winter says. "The payoff of shorter naps is better motor skills, psychological resilience (stressor tolerance), and information processing, memory and decision making."
5. Take a 10-Minute Work Break
Ten minutes is the magic number for many fatigue-fighting tips. Researchers from Romania specifically looked at taking "micro-breaks" from work. They analyzed data from more than 22 studies and a total of more than 2,000 people.
The study participants either took a short break between tasks, anywhere from eight seconds to 10 minutes, or had no break. They found that those who took micro-breaks experienced reduced fatigue and boosted vigor compared to those who powered through their work.
6. Take an Energizing Supplement
Although eating a balanced diet should always come first, sometimes you need to supplement your nutrition to give your body the boost it needs.
One option is ginseng root extract, which various research has found not only helps reduce fatigue, but also enhances physical performance.
Another is vitamin B12, which is a key part of producing energy and is associated with fatigue in deficient people. Studies on pre-workout supplements containing B12 have found they can increase energy and beat fatigue.
Lifeforce Peak Rise™ is another supplement that can help improve your energy levels and boost cognitive performance, too. "It takes about 15 minutes to start working with the full onset about one hour after taking it," Dr. Winter says.
Dr. Winter recommends Peak Rise™, which contains 14 ingredients, including the ones mentioned above, because it's non-habit forming and lasts from eight to 10 hours without ending in a crash.
7. Eat Regularly
Of course, the quality of what we eat is key, and so is consistency. Research has found that skipping meals is linked to fatigue, poor attention and mood, as well as anxiety.
Opt for balanced meals with lean protein, healthy fat, and complex carbs. Limiting processed foods that are high in sugar and fat is connected to better energy and overall health, according to research.
Last but not least, self-care is the common thread through all of these tactics. Having a self-care routine is linked to an increase in energy, among other benefits. Prioritizing nutrition, hydration, and movement is the best recipe for better energy.
This article was medically reviewed by:
Leah Johansen, MD, Board Certified Family Practice Doctor, Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner
Samuel C Winter, DO, Board Certified in Family Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulation by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Medicine