As we get older, we often complain that we're "running on empty." I call this age related loss of energy youth drain-but we don't have to be victims of it. At 74 years of age, I work 60 hours a week, travel widely and still feel energetic.
Youth drain can be caused by a variety of factors, including obesity...chronic medical problems, such as anemia, diabetes, emphysema or an underactive thyroid gland...depression...cancer...use of sedatives and sleeping pills... menopause...poor diet...inadequate sleep...and stress. These factors batter us over the years and drain our vitality-unless we learn how to respond to them and counter their effects.
Here are 12 revitalizing strategies for us all...
Eat less but more frequently. Consuming large meals (more than 1,000 calories per sitting) makes you feel sluggish, as your body's resources are directed toward digesting all that food.
Instead, graze on small meals and snacks that contain a mix of carbohydrates and protein (but little fat) to provide a steady stream of fuel.
Examples: Yogurt smoothie (one cup light nonfat yogurt, one-half cup fat-free milk, one half peach, blended)... peanut butter and banana sandwich (one slice whole wheat bread, one half tablespoon peanut butter one-half banana, sliced)... fruity cottage cheese (one-half cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese, one-half cup pineapple chunks in juice, drained).
Exercise. The health benefits of exercise are well-known, but many people tell me they continue to exercise year after year because it makes them feel good and gives them more energy. I recommend at least 30 minutes of sustained activity five times a week. The best activities for most people tend to be brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and aerobic dance.
Take a multivitamin. In a clinical trial, people who took multivitamins daily not only had improved immunity against infectious diseases but also had more energy. In general, it is best to get vitamins from food, but many people don't get the necessary amounts, so I suggest taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement daily.
Prevent dehydration. Consuming an in adequate amount of fluids, particularly if it's hot outside or you're exercising, can deplete energy and lead to weakness, dizziness and headaches. Drink at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. On days that you exert yourself to the point of perspiring, drink up to 13 glasses.
Watch what you drink. Drink no more than one caffeinated beverage a day. Coffee, tea, cola and other caffeinated beverages provide a temporary energy boost, but energy levels plunge when the stimulant's effects wear off.
Caffeinated drinks also have a diuretic effect, which may cause you to lose fluids because you urinate more frequently.
Also, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day-any more can lead to fatigue.
Practice the "relaxation response." This technique, developed by Herbert Benson, MD, of Harvard University, has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. For me, doing this for just five minutes in the middle of the day is rejuvenating.
How to do it: Sit in a chair in a quiet room. Close your eyes. Starting with your feet, begin to relax your muscles, progressively moving up the body to the top of the head. While you do this, breathe in slowly and naturally through your nose and out through your mouth. As you exhale, silently repeat a focus word or phrase that has meaning for you, such as "peace." Push away distracting thoughts by focusing on your breathing and the word you have chosen to repeat.
Take naps. Surveys show that most Americans don't get as much sleep as they need (most of us require seven to eight hours a night). Daily naps of 15 to 20 minutes are energizing-and longer naps can help you catch up if you are sleep deprived. I sleep only five to six hours a night, so I often take a two-hour nap on Saturdays.
Don't immerse yourself in bad news. The glut of negative information coming our way from TV, radio, newspapers, the Internet, etc., can hurt the psyche, causing stress and fatigue. Reduce the amount of time you spend watching, listening to or reading the news, and focus on things that bring you joy.
Be social. Studies show that isolation can lead to depression and early death. \We gain energy by being with others (both humans and animals). Make time for family, friends and pets.
Explore your creativity. Boredom leads to a lack of motivation and energy. Finding a creative outlet that absorbs you is invigorating. Developing your creativity also teaches you new skills...challenges your brain...and leads to the release of endorphins, feel-good brain chemicals. Take up a new hobby...learn a musical instrument take on an unusual project at work.
Added, benefit: Activities that are mentally stimulating can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Laugh. Laughter appears to release endorphins just as creative pursuits do. By improving you. outlook, you'll feel more energetic and ready to tackle life.
Helpful: Watch funny movies...read cartoons...share humorous stories and jokes with your family and friends.
Think young. To a large extent, your own mindset dictates how much energy you have as you age. If you expect the worst, you're likely to feel tired and unwell. On the other hand, if you expect to stay vital, you'll fight off disease that can sap energy and well-being-and you'll add years to your life.