Work, family, chores, exercise. It’s enough to make anyone reach for that second, third or fourth cup of coffee. You want to stay alert to meet life’s daily demands, but did you know keeping your energy up is good for your health too?
If you’re feeling drained or sleepy, you may be inclined to skip your daily workout. And being physically active has been shown to reduce cancer risk. In addition, being active can help you maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese has been shown to increase your risk of several cancers.
On top of all that, exercise can lower your stress level, another factor in cancer risk reduction.
There are ways to get more energy during your day that don’t require caffeine. We spoke with Carmen Escalante, M.D., professor of Internal Medicine and clinician at The Cancer-Related Fatigue Clinic, about how to get more energy during your day.
Get more sleep.
“This may seem obvious, but many people don’t get enough sleep,” Escalante says.
If you struggle with getting a good night’s rest, try setting a consistent sleep schedule and setting up a consistent bed time routine to help you get more sleep.
Eat a healthy diet.
Eating a healthy diet is one way to maintain energy.
“Stay away from sugar and junk food,” Escalante says. “Eating more complex carbohydrates and more protein may be helpful in sustaining you throughout the day.”
If you’re looking for a mid-day snack to help give you an energy boost, Escalante recommends opting for a handful of nuts before reaching for that candy bar.
The sugar may give you a burst of energy, but it won’t last very long. Making a healthy diet a part of your life style will help give you the energy you need to get through your busiest days.
It seems counterintuitive, but exercising regularly can give you energy. Escalante says researchers aren’t sure why exercise gives you energy, but studies do show a correlation between the two. But don’t expect immediate results, she says.
“You can’t just exercise one day and expect to see a change,” she says. “You have to be consistent.”
To get the most out of your exercise and lower your cancer risk, you should aim for two-and-a-half hours of moderate physical activity each week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise.
Balance your workload
If your work is leaving you tired and drained of energy, balancing your workload can help. Escalante recommends taking short breaks during the work day, if your job allows.
“Take a 10-minute walk around the building,” she says. “It helps you relax a little and clear your head, so you can come back refreshed and ready to focus.”
Dehydration slows the flow of oxygen to your organs, which can drain you of your energy. So make sure to drink water during the day. And make sure it is water, too, Escalante says. Soda may seem tempting, but both regular and diet sodas can lead to midday slumps, just like those sugary snacks.
Follow these steps and you’ll start to feel more energy during your day.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson's Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center online or call 877-632-6789.