4 Instant Energy Boosts

Everyone has natural energy peaks and slumps throughout the day. Ideally, you know when you work best and have scheduled your to-do list to reflect this, but sometimes life requires that we get things done even when we're feeling sluggish.

1. See the Light

If you're stuck in a dark room, your mood may come to reflect your surroundings and you may feel grumpy and sleepy. The solution? Leave the building. "Just getting outside often makes people feel better," says Dr. Carla Wolper, a member of the obesity research faculty at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center. If you can't get out, consider installing a light therapy box, which emits bright light similar to sunlight. In fact, light therapy is a proven treatment technique for people suffering from seasonal affective disorder, which can cause depression and fatigue during times of less daylight.

2. Breathe Deeply

You do it all day long, but chances are you aren't doing it for maximal energy. "Oftentimes we lose energy during midday because we resort to shallow breathing as our posture slumps forward toward the computer screen," claims Ryan Halvorson, a San Diego fitness instructor and editor for IDEA Health & Fitness Association. "Without adequate oxygen flow, energy production is limited." Halvorson recommends focusing on slow, deep breaths, sitting up tall, and counting to five on the inhale and five on the exhale. After a minute or two, he says, you'll feel a natural energy boost.

3. Take a Nap

It may seem counterintuitive to sleep in order to raise your energy levels, but according to a study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, that's exactly what a midday nap can do. Researchers split 39 young adults into two groups and gave them all a rigorous cognitive task to perform at noon. Both groups performed equally well. One group was then allowed to take a 90-minute nap at 2 pm. At 6 pm the participants were given another rigorous cognitive task. This time, the nappers significantly outperformed the others, reinforcing the scientists' theory that sleep clears the brain's memory cache and makes room for new information.

4. Work it Out

You don't need an hour of exercise to feel invigorated. Try doing a single exercise—push-ups or squats—for one minute. "This increases oxygen flow and floods the body with endorphins, which improve energy levels and feelings of well-being," Halvorson says.




Interview with Ryan Halvorson, certified personal trainer, San Diego.

Interview with Dr. Carla Wolper, New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center.

Mayo Clinic. "Light Therapy." Web. www.mayoclinic.com/health/light-therapy/MY00195

University of California, Berkeley. "An Afternoon Nap Markedly Boosts the Brain's Learning Capacity." Web. 22 February 2010. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2010/02/22/naps_boost_learning_capacity/