Despite all the standard advice about exercise—much of it is very worthwhile—the issue of having energy all your life runs deeper than just getting more exercise. At present, more than half of young adults regularly exercise—in contrast to the obesity epidemic that is occurring at the same time—but there's a steady decline in the exercise habits in older groups. The age group that benefits the most from physical activity are people over 70 and well up into their 80s and 90s, but these are also the most sedentary groups in society.
To have more energy today is very desirable but having abundant energy for life should be your highest goal.
Here are steps to help you cultivate lifelong energy.
1. Abandon Sedentary Habits
If you are physically active, your body will certainly benefit, and the more you exercise, the greater the benefits. Yet by far the biggest leap comes by getting up from the sofa, abandoning sedentary habits, and starting to move.
If you want an effortless regime that will also last you for life, get in the habit of standing, walking, dancing, doing yoga, and generally moving every hour. The actual amount of time is secondary; even a few minutes is helpful. If you can do 10 minutes, that is even better. The point is to activate messages from your brain to the rest of your body that sitting around is no longer the program.
2. Try New, Fun Exercise Routines
The next step for lifelong energy is repetitions in your physical exercise, because people grow sedentary and inactive by dropping the physical activity of their younger years. Unfortunately, repetition is boring for almost everyone (excluding the minority who can't wait to do repetitions at the gym).
To counter the boredom, try movements that you really enjoy. Half an hour dancing to the radio is better than a marathon if you love it and feel enthusiastic about repeating it. Try new things all the time, though. I think it is self-defeating to use a distraction like watching TV as you walk on the treadmill—you are conceding that the exercise part is boring, and eventually you will give it up.
3. Build Psychological Resilience
The next stage isn't physical but mental. Human beings aren't coal-fired engines. Feeding you more fuel doesn't lead to more energy, and often produces just the opposite, since the digestive process takes energy away from your muscles. Human beings move around to work, play, explore, and express ourselves. These things are psychological and having a relish for them during an entire lifetime requires psychological resilience. Let me explain what this means.
People who stay young and energetic for life endure the same setbacks and frustrations as everyone else. Their secret is that they bounce back from setbacks. To do this, requires a sense of self that is centered and unshakable. In addition, resilience means not getting stuck. Stuckness in old grievances, self-judgment, unhappy relationships, and an unsatisfying job sounds like a complex matter—and it is. But life can unfold without getting stuck if you dedicate yourself to consciousness, the source of renewal.
4. Dedicate Yourself to Consciousness
A life in flow—a life that focuses on the present moment—comes about from the source. You can't work on flow; you allow it. The process comes from deep within, which is why meditation is so critical. It may sound odd that sitting still, closing your eyes, and going inward gives rise to more energy, but it does. An alert but restful state of awareness, the kind developed in meditation, serves as the ideal platform for seeing life anew every day. From that foundation, flow comes naturally, because your enthusiasm for life inspires you to move, play, explore, and express yourself.
A life without play and exploration—filled with things to do and objects to own—but a life short on renewal, becomes grimmer over time. You can be just as stuck in a penthouse as anywhere else. Notice that I haven't been talking in terms of feeling younger, because the real essence is to feel alive. Youth has its own challenges and obstacles, as we all know having lived through it. Stuckness in middle age generally has roots going back to the frustrations and obstacles of previous decades. The only time you can be alive is here and now. That's the challenge at any age but also the greatest joy.
By going to the source as your first and highest priority, you are tapping into pure consciousness, which has infinite energy, intelligence, wonder, and joy. Only by keeping this in mind can you ensure abundant energy for life.
Discover a unique mind-body-spirit approach to reclaim the energy of youth in Energize Your Life: Secrets for a Youthful Spirit, Deepak’s free online meditation program starting October 29. Register for free.