Fitness

How to Improve Your Energy and Live an Active Lifestyle

These foods, habits, and supplements can improve your mood, help you sleep, and help you recover
BY Lisa Roth Collins TIMEAugust 1, 2022 PRINT

The past few years have taken a toll on so many people and their energy—physical, emotional, and mental. We are suffering from emotional stress, fear, anger, unexpected lifestyle adjustments, feelings of uncertainty, loss, and losing control–you can probably add your own items to the list.

For many people, it is time to take inventory, adjust to a new normal, and work on restoring and revitalizing our energy and health. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to incorporate more movement into your life, and that requires energy and the will (mood) to make it happen.

Food, Mood, and Energy

Food is fuel, and your food choices are critical regarding your mood, energy levels, and energy expenditures. In fact, you can better manage your mood if you make wise food habits and choices. Here are some ways to do just that.

Eat regularly to help maintain steady blood sugar levels: Foods that release energy slowly (e.g., nuts, seeds, whole grains, and cereals) can work to balance mood and energy levels. Declines in blood sugar levels can lead to irritability, depression, and tiredness.

Avoid foods that result in mood and energy swings: These include sweets, alcohol, soft drinks, and other sugary foods.

Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily: They are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients and provide fiber and water to help maintain energy.

Grab the greens: Dark leafy greens, wheatgrass, spirulina, and seaweed are super packed with energizing nutrients.

Eat sufficient protein: Everyone’s protein needs differ, and you can get an estimate of what you need with an online protein requirement calculator. Include protein at every meal for sustained energy and a balanced mood.

Watch caffeine intake. Although caffeine can give you an energy boost, it also may make you feel depressed, anxious, and unable to sleep well.

Stay hydrated. Insufficient water intake can lead to tiredness, irritability, constipation, and dizziness.

Enjoy healthy fats. Omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats are a big plus for energy and mood. Oily fish, walnuts, almonds, avocados, eggs, and seeds (especially pumpkin, chia, flax, and hemp) are suggested. Strictly limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats.

Easy Activities to Add to Your Daily Life

Want to easily increase your daily physical activity for better sleep, mood, and energy? There are dozens of ways to sneak extra exercise into your routine with little effort. Your body will love you for it!

  • Skip the elevator and take the steps whenever possible.
  • Park further away from your destination.
  • Take stretch and exercise breaks throughout the day.
  • Sneak in brief walks before breakfast and at lunch.
  • Exercise while watching TV or movies.
  • Stretch before getting out of bed.

How Movement Helps Mood and Sleep 

Research shows that being physically active improves mood and helps with sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, people who engage in regular exercise (especially moderate aerobic exercise) are less likely to experience insomnia and other sleep problems and also experience relief from symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Exercise helps with mood and sleep by releasing endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. It also changes core body temperature. When you exercise, your core body temperature rises, then drops afterward. Your body temperature also declines in the evening, so the similarity may cause your brain to think it’s ready to sleep.

Bouncing Back From Activity-Delayed Onset Inflammation

Sometimes when we exercise too hard or engage muscles we haven’t worked much in the past, we experience inflammation and soreness. On a cellular level, research indicates that cells called neutrophils are activated and move into the exercised area, causing inflammation and damage. One way to help bounce back from activity-delayed onset inflammation is to focus on certain foods. These include:

  • Bananas provide natural sugars and an insulin boost to send protein into muscle fibers. They also have potassium, which helps muscle damage.
  • Eggs, a source of leucine, which helps with muscle recovery.
  • Salmon is known for the healthy fat, omega-3, which fights inflammation.
  • Tart cherry juice, which can help heal muscle damage.
  • Turmeric, a delicious spice known for its anti-inflammatory powers.
  • Watermelon is a source of L-citrulline, which reduces soreness.

Consider Supplements

Adopting the best diet and lifestyle habits can go a long way toward maintaining energy, mood, and quality sleep. But sometimes, you need help from your friends—natural, high-quality supplements—because life is full of challenges that block your best efforts when it comes to eating well.

Take protein, for example. You may not always get the amount you need, especially if you have stepped up your exercise. This is a time when a protein supplement can help. You’ll find lots of protein powders on the market, but if you want a plant-based protein powder that doesn’t cause bloating or gas, then choose a fermented protein powder. Fermentation releases the nutrients for optimal absorption.

If you’ve kicked up your exercise routine, you’ll need to take care of your joints and related body parts. A natural protein called collagen is a wise choice for this task. Aching knees, overworked hips, and stressed elbows can all benefit from collagen supplements. Collagen supplements can help you reduce activity-related joint aches and pain and help repair and build ligaments, tendons, muscles, joints, and cartilage. Joint health can also greatly benefit from a joint supplement made with natural eggshell membranes, bromelain, and avocado extract, which also fights inflammation.

To improve mood and focus, include more omega-3 essential fats in your life. Because many folks don’t eat much oil fish (if any), an omega-3 fish oil supplement is highly recommended. These healthy fats help with mood, brain health, memory, focus, and concentration. Other foods and supplement that help with mood and mental fatigue are lion’s mane mushroom, L-theanine, ginseng, and green tea. Reduced mental fatigue also can help with sleep problems.

Bottom Line

If you want to improve your energy levels and brighten your mood, then it’s time to turn to dietary and exercise changes. Adding supplements may further help you to reach your personal goals.

Lisa Roth Collins is a registered holistic nutritionist and also the marketing manager at NaturallySavvy.com, which first published this article.
You May Also Like