How to maintain age-defying energy levels
A common assumption as we age is that our energy levels will drop. We expect to slow down, get tired easily, and lack the vibrancy and vigor of our youthful days. There’s no denying that many health changes do coincide with aging and one of them is a reduction in energy levels. It seems that once past the age of 50, many of us become less physically active and if we’ve developed a chronic disease, our get-up-and-go lives we once lived have gone by the wayside.
While reality (and often society) says you’re old and should be slowing down, it doesn’t mean you have to listen. Why resign yourself to feeling fatigued and lethargic as the years go by? Besides, with some lifestyle changes, you can maximize energy levels allowing you continued enjoyment of a fun-filled life. Below are several suggestions on how you can retain your passion and zest for life with loads of energy:
· Eat a whole foods diet
Fresh, whole, unprocessed foods renew energy levels with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. A steady diet of packaged, processed foods tends to make you feel sluggish and heavy. Start each day by staying well hydrated with water, eat lean protein, lots of fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and avocados. Eat a variety of foods at each meal and keep junk food to a bare minimum.
· Keep moving with exercise
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling tired. But it’s just what you need to prevent energy level dips during the day. That’s because exercise improves blood circulation to your muscles and brain making you feel alert and awake. All that movement also triggers a release of endorphins making you happier and in a better mood. Each day, take an outdoor walk in the sunshine. Not only will you be more energized for the day but the dose of sunlight will regulate your circadian rhythm helping you sleep better at night.
Choose a combination of exercises for a full body workout - aerobic exercises (walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling), strength training (lifting weights, pushups/pull-ups), and flexibility moves such as yoga or Pilates. Any kind of physical activity is a great way to get your heart rate up and body moving. To really have fun, play your favorite music and dance to your heart’s delight.
· Review your medications
Take a look at medications you’re taking. Many drugs – including high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and antihistamines – have side effects zapping energy levels. Review your meds with your primary care doctor and ask if you still need to take it, could the dose be lowered, or are there other alternatives.
· Keep your mind active
Besides exercising your body, don’t forget to do the same with your brain. When your brain is kept active you will feel more invigorated and alert. There are many ways to accomplish keeping your mind alive and well – here are a few examples:
· Take a community college class on something you want to learn more about
· Learn a new language
· Learn a new skill such as ballroom dancing or painting
· Do crossword puzzles
· Play games such as Sudoku, Scrabble, and chess
· Read historical nonfiction or fiction classic novels
· Check your vitamin D
Vital for energy and mood, vitamin D is best taken in through sunshine; when UV rays hit the skin, they get transformed into vitamin D. The bad news is that as you age, your skin becomes less efficient at converting sunlight to vitamin D. That’s why taking a vitamin D supplement may be a good answer to keeping your levels in check along with your energy levels too. Ask your doctor for a vitamin D test to check your status and if they think you should take a supplement or not.
· Get sufficient sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep can be harder with aging. Older adults tend to have an increased time of sleep-onset latency which is the time it takes to fall asleep. They also have more sleep fragmentation, which is the number of times they wake up in the middle of the night. Plus, your body’s production of growth hormone slows down which can lead to a reduction in deep sleep due to lack of melatonin. When all combined, this can result in draining energy you vitally need for the day.
To prevent sleep problems from stealing valuable energy, take the following steps for a better night’s sleep:
· If you take a nap, do it early afternoon and no more than 30 minutes.
· Cut back on caffeine intake to improve quality of sleep.
· Have a set bedtime routine.
· Stop drinking fluids at least 3 hours before bedtime to prevent waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
· Take a warm bath or shower before bedtime to relax.
· Do some stretches to relax muscles and tension within an hour before bedtime.
· Power down from all electronics at least an hour before you go to bed.