Every aspect of your life, from work and finances to relationships and hobbies, is dependent upon your energy. Abundant energy provides the necessary fuel to support important areas of focus while diminished energy leads to unfulfilled potential.
The practices that follow are proven methods of increasing energy. When implemented regularly, these routines not only enhance energy, they slow cellular aging, offer neuro-protective benefits, and recharge your mitochondria.
1. Spend 20 Minutes In Bright Morning Light
While many people are aware of the sleep disrupting effects of blue light at night, most have not heard of the importance of bright morning light. Research shows that exposure to bright light within half an hour of awakening can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep at night and increase sleep quality, two vital contributors to energy production. As an added bonus, bright morning light has been found to decrease body fat and appetite in women.
To take advantage of the benefits of morning light, go for a walk, meditate, or eat breakfast outdoors within half an hour of awakening. If weather does not permit outdoor time, use a bright light therapy device. Aim for a minimum of 20 minutes of light exposure.
2. Exercise For 3 Minutes Each Hour
Researchers at the Utah School of Medicine found that performing light to moderate intensity exercise three minutes every hour throughout the day significantly increased subjective energy measures and decreased the chances of dying from any cause by 33 percent. If you're awake 16 hours a day and you move for three minutes every hour, that adds up to 48 minutes daily. Multiply that by seven days a week and you end up with over five and half hours of interval training each week. In addition to enhancing energy, movement throughout the day also increases productivity, focus, creativity, and mood.
Movement breaks can include walking, stretching, squats, pushups, or any activity that gets your heart pumping. In an office setting try walking up several flights of stairs, using resistance bands, or performing desk push ups.
3. Maintain A Consistent Sleep/Wake Schedule
A consistent sleep schedule maintains the body’s internal clock. Since hormones, energy, heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health are dependent upon the body’s internal clock, even small variations can significantly impact your health. Research shows that a consistent sleep/wake schedule can increase quality rest, help improve body composition among older adults, and lower heart disease risk.
According to Dr. Cinthya Peña Orbea, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center, it is important to set sleep and wake-up times that allow for sufficient rest and then try not to alter those by more than an hour once a week. The ancient science of Ayurveda recommends that your snooze time be between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
4. Eat More Plants and Fewer Processed Foods
Alongside overall health, energy is derived directly from the foods you ingest. It is vital to provide your body with quality fuel in the form of phytonutrient rich, fiber packed plant foods. Nearly everything that comes in a package, even ones touting healthy, natural, and organic labels, is processed. While processed foods may provide a quick burst of energy, they are notorious for their record of spiking blood sugar and depleting energy. When you feel hungry, focus on consuming nature’s fast foods: nuts, seeds, oats, fruits, and vegetables.
5. Skip The Snacks
Conventional dietary recommendations propose that eating frequent small meals maintains stable blood sugar levels. However, Ayurvedic wisdom suggests, and modern science validates, that eating frequently desensitizes the body’s insulin response and eventually leads to less stable blood sugar. Fasting between meals allows the body to completely digest the last meal before beginning a new digestion process.
In Ayurveda, the hours immediately following a meal are known as the Kapha stage, in which the body feels heavy and full. This is followed by the Pitta period, where the digestive processes transform food into energy. The final phase is the Vata phase, during which a feeling of lightness returns, signifying the completion of digestion. Each time you eat, it is important to allow ample time for the entire digestive process to take place (4-5 hours). To maintain stable energy, eat three balanced meals and enjoy sipping warm, herbal tea in between.
6. Heal Your Gut Microbiome
The enteric nervous system, also known as the gut, plays a key role in energy production. Not only does the gut extract vital nutrients from food, it also produces key regulators of mood and energy, such as serotonin. Yet, poor diet, stress, alcohol, indoor environments, and exposure to heavy metals or pathogens can create imbalances in the gut microbiome.
To restore balance within the gut, integrate probiotic rich fermented foods such as kimchi or raw coconut yogurt, enjoy omega-3 foods like salmon and chia seeds, increase plant fiber, and employ daily stress management strategies. In addition, you may find it helpful to use targeted supplementation such as digestive enzymes, L-glutamine, probiotics, collagen, or curcumin.
7. Integrate Hormetic Training
The nemesis of energy and youth is not old age, it is constant comfort. Climate controlled environments, readily available food, and sedentary lifestyles have created conditions in which the body does not need to become stronger, more resourceful, or adaptive. Hormetic training introduces low dose physical stressors that initiate adaptive responses, ultimately increasing strength and energy. Exercise is one such example but there are others: heat, cryotherapy, calorie restriction, and intermittent hypoxia. The old adage that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” turns out to be true.
Integrating hermetic training is as simple as challenging your body within reasonable limits. For example, when it is cold outside try taking a walk without a jacket. Choose a hot day to clean your garage. Have a breath holding contest with a friend. Fast from food for 18-24 hours. As the body is confronted with new obstacles, it adapts and becomes more resourceful to better hand the challenge next time. The net result is increased longevity, health, and energy.
Cultivating superhuman energy is countercultural. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone and into nature, movement, light, and routine. The result is that you earn your superhero energy badge which you can use to accomplish profound and wonderful things.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.