There’s a lot of health changes that come with aging. One of them is a drop in energy levels. Kathy Caiello, ACE certified advanced exercise specialist and owner of Kathy Caiello’s FitStop, explains, “Energy levels drop after 50 because many people become less physically active as they age. Also, there’s physical ailments and simply the aging process.” It’s an unfortunate reality but doesn’t mean that you have to resign yourself to feeling fatigued and lethargic as you get older. There are changes that you can make to your lifestyle that can maximize your energy levels so that you have more energy to do the things you love.
Exercise to increase your energy levels.
When you’re feeling tired and sluggish, exercising will probably be the last thing on your mind. However, it can really do wonders for your energy. “Exercise can improve energy levels because of the blood circulating throughout your body,” says Caiello. “Circulation to your muscles and brain make you feel alive and awake.”
Not only will more oxygen be sent to your brain, but there’ll be more oxygen sent to your muscles, as well. Exercising releases endorphins into your body, which makes you happy and keeps you in a better mood. Have you ever found that you have more energy to do things when you’re in a good mood? By taking advantage of those endorphins that working out gives you, you’ll be feeling better than ever.
What exercises should you do?
It doesn’t matter what exercises you choose to do. Any sort of physical activity is a great way to get your heart rate up and your body moving. “Doing anything that you love to do and will do is the best exercise, whether it be an outdoor activity or indoors. Many love to work out to music, as in a dance aerobics, HIIT, strength class, or a yoga type class that emphasizes flexibility and balance,” says Caiello. It’s important to choose activities that you really enjoy. This way, you can exercise without it feeling like you’re working out! Plus, you’ll have a better chance of sticking to it and have fun while you’re at it.
With age, the body’s production of the growth hormone slows down. This leads to a decrease in deep sleep due to lack of melatonin. and can drain all of your energy.
For older adults, Caiello recommends working out five to six days a week at a moderate intensity level. And, don’t forget the importance of strength training, too. As you age, your muscle mass and strength decrease. By including resistance training in your routine, you’ll be able to build more muscle, which can lead to better functionality. She suggests, “strength training two to three days per week. On alternate days do various cardio activities. Mix it up a little, but also be sure to always do flexibility and range of motion exercises, too!”
Flexibility exercises are really important as your muscles also lose elasticity as you age. Make sure that you stretch before you work out to keep your muscles limber. If there are days when you’re feeling really lethargic and don’t want to exert yourself too much, simply take a short walk. Going outside even for ten minutes can be really invigorating.
Exercise your mind.
Being just physically active isn’t the only way to boost your energy levels. You should exercise your mind, as well. By keeping your brain active, you can feel invigorated. There are some fun ways to do that, including:
- Playing games—like Sudoku, Scrabble, and chess—that require you to think
- Learning a new language
- Learning a new skill
- Doing crossword puzzles
Doing these fun mental exercises can keep the brain sharp and clear. When you’re feeling more aware and awake, you’ll also have more energy for other things in life.
What should you eat?
The foods you consume can make a significant difference in your energy levels. While older adults don’t need to eat the same number of calories as younger people, they still need to ensure that they’re getting enough nutrients and minerals.
“I suggest that people stay well hydrated with water, eat lean protein, lots of fruits and veggies, some monounsaturated fats, and stay low on the starchy carbs,” says Caiello. Fruits and veggies are really great to consume in large amounts because most of them are low in calories, while still being nutritious and delicious. Try to have them as solid whole foods, instead of drinking them, to get the most out of them. Plus, it’ll be much more filling. “I like to have lots of variety in my meals to keep it interesting and fun. Keep junk food to a minimum,” she adds.
Get some sleep.
When you get older, it can become much harder to have a good night’s sleep. Studies show that older adults have an increased time of sleep-onset latency, that is, the time it takes to fall asleep. They also have more sleep fragmentation, which refers to the number of times they wake up in the middle of the night. Your body’s production of the growth hormone slows down, which leads to a decrease in deep sleep due to lack of melatonin. This can drain all of your energy that should be reserved for the next day.
Making changes in your lifestyle can help improve your sleep and give you more energy the next day. By making sure that you don’t nap too late during the day, or for too long, as well as cutting back on caffeine, can improve the quality of your sleep. However, if your lack of good sleep is causing you significant trouble in your day-to-day life, then seek treatment from your doctor.
Don’t resign yourself to a low-energy life. Pay attention to the lifestyle habits that might drain energy and give your energy levels a boost by keeping up with your healthy habits.