Want a Nap? Try Working Out to Increase Your Energy Level Instead

Fitness Article: Want a Nap? Try Working out to Increase Your Energy Level Instead

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Though exercising when you are tired and want a nap may sound counterintuitive, and maybe even counterproductive, working out to increase your energy level may work for you. When I first heard from a mentor that I should exercise when tired instead of taking a nap, I was exhausted between working full time at my internship site and finishing up grad school assignments. Although sleep is, of course, important, I knew a nap would put me at risk of not being able to fall asleep that night, which could contribute to my sleep debt. So I decided to do a 20 minute workout with Les Mills Pump. I figured that it was short enough to power through and if it didn’t work, I could always take a nap afterward.

It did work! I shouldn’t have been surprised, of course. I had heard long before this advice was given to me similar sentiments from Chalene Johnson. In one of her Turbofire workouts, she talks about how people ask her why she always has so much energy and she says that she works out. People say that they’re too tired to do that, and she says that if they worked out they’d have more energy. That’s how it works. How does exercise work to increase energy?

The Body Creates Energy from Exercise

According to nutritionist Samantha Heller, energy production begins with mitochondria in our cells, which she says are like “tiny power plants to produce energy”. The more activity you have, the more mitochondria are required, so doing regular cardiovascular exercise prompts the body to increase the mitochondria available in the body to meet your energy needs (1).

Robert Gotlin, MD, DO, and the director of sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, says that the energy increase from exercise is also related to improvements in mood and fitness level. Hormones called endorphins are released when doing things requiring a burst of energy, like working out, and the increased level of endorphins helps people feel more focused mentally after a workout. Better cardiovascular health comes from working out, which leads to more endurance, allowing people to have more energy left over at the end of the day. People may also experience improved sleep after exercise which leads to more energy the following day (2).

Types of Exercise that Boost Energy

The type of exercise you do may matter if your’e hoping for an energy boost. In a 2008 study by University of Georgia researchers, it was discovered than inactive people complaining of fatigue could decrease fatigue up to 65% and increase energy up to 20% through participation in regular, low-intensity exercise (1). According to behavioral therapist and personal trainer Therese Pasqualoni, Ph.D, exercise that is in your low to moderate training heart rate range “will prevent you from depleting your body and help you from feeling fatigued…” (1). According to experts mentioned by Bouchez in a WebMD article, yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi, are among the workouts that can be beneficial for this goal (1). There are some excellent home workouts that incorporate these workouts including yoga workouts Ho Ale Ke Kino and Yoga Booty Ballet, PiYo (a cross between Pilates and Yoga), and Tai Cheng, which is based on Tai Chi.

Robert Thayer, Ph.D, a psychology professor at California State University Long Beach, indicated that a 10 or 15 minute walk “has a primary effect of increased energy”. He discussed with WebMD a study in which people had more energy on days when they had more total daily steps than on days when they walked less (1). I have heard from several people that 10,000 steps a day is a good goal to have, and I know some who use a FitBit or similar device to track their steps and other activity levels. I haven’t given such a thing a go yet, but for awhile my car was broken down and I was walking nearly every day for at least 40 minutes, and I did feel a lot more energetic those days, even though I had to motivate myself to take those first steps. You can read more about increasing your motivation to walk or run here and some fit facts about walking here. If you do prefer high intensity workouts, Thayer reports that it might be possible that within about an hour of an intense workout “when your muscles recover, you might see a surge of energy but without the tension” (1).

Bicycling at Wildwood Recreation Site, Welches - horizontal - 281 Photo by Mt. Hood Territory via Flickr (creative commons)

Bicycling can be just for fun or to help you exercise on the way to a destination. [Photo by Mt. Hood Territory.]

Pete Mcall, Exercise Physiologist at the American Council on Exercise recommends bicycling for pleasure and to run errands or commuting to work. He says, “Research indicates that most errands people run are within two miles of their home, a distance easily covered on a bicycle.” He points out that bicycling for errands has a dual benefit, in that it reduces the the amount of carbons in the air as well as helping people to exercise (3). I may actually be getting a bike soon for both purposes. He also recommends working extra activity into your day by taking the stairs or parking in a spot further from your destination. McCall says “chronic exercise beats chronic fatigue every time” (3). I’ll have to keep that line in mind next time I do multiple (not overly strenuous) workouts in a day and am asked “Why are you working out so much?”

If you want to know the absolute best workout for an energy boost, Gotlin says the best workout is “up to you and what you like to do” because “it’s not going to work if you don’t like it”. (2).

What do you like to do for exercise (and hopefully fun)? Let me know in the comments below!




1. Exercise for Energy Workouts that Work by Colette Bouchez on WebMD

2. Boost Your Energy Levels With Exercise by Diana Rodrigues on Everyday Health

3. Exercise as a Cure for Fatigue and to Boost Energy Levels by Marion Webb on AceFitness.org

Note: As an Independent Beachbody Coach I do make a commission on sales through my shop, which is where links to Beachbody products will point. If you choose to purchase through them, I thank you for your support, and I look forward to helping you invest in your fitness!

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Workout Wednesday Link Up with Investing in Fitness

Today begins the first Workout Wednesday Link Up on Investing in Fitness. I hope you’ll join in the fun! Sometime between now and next Wednesday (July 1st), add a workout-related post to the linkup. You can include any post (new or old) related to working out, whether you want to tell us about your favorite way to workout, a workout program or challenge you’re participating in, something you’re training for, what you like to eat to fuel your workouts, or even your favorite thing to wear for a workout. As long as it’s workout-related, your post is welcome in the link up.

Workout Wednesday Link Up Investing in Fitness

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1. Click “Add Your Link” below.
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4. Visit and comment on other blog posts in the link up.

Enter your post in the Workout Wednesday Link Up below:

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Les Mills Combat Supreme Warrior Wrap-up

Les Mills Combat CaseAfter Week 7 of Les Mills Combat on the Supreme Warrior schedule, I had my rest day plus an extra one. To begin Week 8, I did Combat 60 Live, which is always intense but fun. Normally I work out in a sports bra and shorts, but since it was a cool day, I did the workout in yoga pants and a tank top. I should have stuck with my usual attire. About halfway through, I took off the tank top to work out in my sports bra but was stuck with the pants. I got pretty overheated. I made it through the workout without needing to change into shorts, but I’ll stick with shorts for that workout from now on.

I thought I had gotten through at least two more workouts in Week 8. However, I apparently didn’t take notes (or took them by hand and misplaced them), and of course I can’t seem to find the calendar on which I was marking off the days I had done. So, this will have to suffice as the conclusion of my experience with this program. I can’t remember why, but I took over a week after those few days. At that point, with only about a week left to finish the program, I figured my “end results” wouldn’t really be accurate if I picked up where I left off. However, while I have since done one-off Les Mills Combat workouts and enjoy them, a “do over” of the full program has yet to happen.

In retrospect, I should have just picked up where I left off as long as I was feeling fit enough to do those workouts, so I could say I finished even if it wasn’t “on time”. I might have had slightly less great results than I would have liked because that would have been better than doing what I did do, which was end up putting off consistently working out for far longer than I should have. On the plus side, at least I got in about 7 and a half weeks of workouts, which is more than I had before starting the program.

I am finding that even with programs I enjoy, like Les Mills Combat, I tend to get bored doing the same thing over and over, and I think that contributes to me not being motivated enough to finish them For awhile, in an effort to at least work out more if not follow a program, I just did whatever struck my fancy for the day.

Now, I’m doing Les Mills Pump. I’ve started my third week of that program and, while not bored, I have mixed up some of the days, figuring it’s better to do the next in line and go back than to take an extra rest day that might turn into two or more. Because the program recommends walks with some of the shorter workouts or on days where no workout is scheduled with the recommendation to replace the walk with another cardio workout if needed, I’m enjoying the flexibility to change things up, which I think is going to help me push through.

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My Fitness Product Wish List

Last time, I gave you some suggestions on fitness programs and equipment for gift giving (many under $20). Today I thought I’d share with you my own fitness product wish list. Since I just splurged on Tai Cheng and a Jump Mat during the Black Friday sale, I probably won’t be getting any of these soon, but ya never know. My habit of buying fitness programs when I haven’t finished the ones I have is nearly as bad as my habit of buying more books when I haven’t gotten through the ones I already have. Okay maybe not that bad yet, but still…Anyhow here are some things that might will probably soon end up in my fitness product collection.

I admit, it’s a little very hard for me to get into weight training. Cardio is my thing. But I loved Les Mills Combat (so much so I will probably take another crack at it after Asylum), which included a little bit of weight training in it. So I’m hoping I would also like Les Mills Pump. It comes with two five pound and two ten pound weights, so I’d be able to start off with a low weight and work my way up.

GET IT DONE: IN 25 MINUTES A DAY! I like Shaun T. I have his Insanity and Insanity: The Asylum programs (as well as Rockin’ Body, which is fun once in awhile but a little low intensity for me to stick with as a program). Both Insanity and Asylum are a little long, so the idea of getting a good, intense workout with the same trainer in about half the time with T25 is appealing to me.

I’m going through the 30 day Insanity: The Asylum Volume 1 and am liking it so far. Volume 2 is another 30 days. Although these workouts are no easier than Insanity, and in fact I think might be a little bit harder, the fact that they’re only 30 days makes the goal feel more within reach than with 60 and 90 day programs, so I think this would make a good program for me to do in between a couple longer ones.

I like cardio, and I like to dance, which are two of the main components of Brazil Butt Lift. And who doesn’t want a nice butt? I’ve also heard that Brazil Butt Lift is kind of deceptively difficult, so I want to try it sometime. It’s also a 60 day program (which might make it a good one to do between longer programs) and most of the workouts are only 30-35 minutes which means I’ll have no excuse not to be able to squeeze them in daily between class assignments.

I’d also like to try P90X3 which actually just came out today. As much as I like Tony Horton, I haven’t been able to stick with doing P90X the couple of times I’ve started it. P90X3 is 90 days like P90X, but the workouts are much shorter at just 30 minutes a day. Just a heads up, for those who might also be interested in this program, when you order through a coach (which I am) before 12/31/13, you’ll get free shipping (in the US and Canada) as well as a free P90X3 hat.

I don’t use a lot in the way of equipment and usually go for programs that either don’t require any or only require a few small pieces. But there are a couple things I’d like to get. One thing is a heart rate monitor. I like this one because it doesn’t require a chest strap. I will also want to get a new yoga mat soon. I tried using the one I have as a jump mat and pretty much tore it up. Fortunately, the Jump Mat I bought just came in yesterday so I’m excited to be able to use that to jump on instead (and also to do pushups because I was sliding around too much on our stupid parquet floor), but it’s a little too thick and heavy to bother with for yoga. Plus I discovered it’s made with natural rubber latex, which I’m sensitive to, so while I can jump on it, I don’t want to have my skin on it too much. I’m liking this mat because it’s made of PVC vinyl unlike the jump mat or other available yoga mat, and it’s a little longer than the other mat as well.

The Crafty Practitioner

This post was inspired by One Chocolate Box’s Christmas Spectacular Blog Hop prompt on Christmas wishlists and also fits with The Crafty Practitioner’s Must-Have Monday Link Up, so I hope it’s okay to post for both. If you’d like to join the Christmas Spectacular linkup challenge, check out the prompts and add your post’s link to Toni’s post for the relevant day. If you have some must-have items you’d like to post about, check out Must Have Monday. Don’t worry. Although Monday has passed, the link up will be open for a few more days.

Note: I am a BeachBody coach and make a commission on sales of BeachBody products. If you shop with me, thanks for your support!

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Gift Suggestions for All Ages & Fitness Levels

Shopping for a fitness buff, a friend or family member who has expressed an interest in exercising more in the New Year, or just want to give the gift of health and fitness to yourself or someone you care about? Today I want to share a few gift suggestions of BeachBody workout programs to fit various ages, fitness levels, and interests. I know funds can be tight this time of year, so I’ve included several ideas that are under $20. After the fitness programs, I’ll also recommend a few pieces of exercise equipment.

Workout Programs
You may know  Tony Horton from P90X (which has a sequel by the way), but did you know he also has a yoga program? Ho’ Ala ke Kino is a 30 minute yoga and stretching routine set on a beach in Hawaii, so it creates a relaxing atmosphere in addition to helping improve flexibility and coordination. And at $9.95, it’s a program that won’t break the budget. If you like 30 minute yoga routines, you might also be interested in Gillian Marloth Clark’s Yoga Booty Ballet: Pure and Simple Yoga, which is a 30 minute routine with three difficulty levels. That program sells for $19.95.



Many women wish to maintain fitness during pregnancy, but may not be sure what they can handle doing. Teigh McDonough created Yoga Booty Ballet: Baby on the Way during her pregnancy as a workout program for expectant mothers using cardio, light resistance, and stretching for just 30 minutes a day. See her letter to mothers-to-be here. Possible benefits to maintaining a regular fitness routine during pregnancy include reducing time spent in labor and relieving side effects like morning sickness, fatigue, and back aches. This program is $19.95.



Know someone wanting to improve their flexibility? Dr. Mark Cheng’s Tai Cheng is a low impact Tai Chi-based program designed to help improve well-being, mobility, and posture. You get 6 free gifts worth over $250, including a foam roller to help loosen tight muscles. You also get a bonus DVD: Tai Cheng’s Body Alignment for Better Living. Tai Cheng is $119.85 and has a 90 day money-back guarantee. Tony Horton also has a low-impact 30 minute program for those aged 55+. It’s $9.95, and a portion of the proceeds goes toward funding cancer research.



We all know it’s important for kids to exercise, but it can be hard to get them active, especially in the winter months. Shaun T has a solution to get them off the couch and on their feet called Fit Kids Club. It’s a program for kids 7+ with two 25 minute workouts that get them up, dancing, and having fun for just $19.95. Tony Horton also has a program for children (recommend for ages 5-12) called Tony and the Kids that lets kids stretch, hop, kick, and twist their way to fitness. It’s $9.95, and a portion of the proceeds supports the El Faro Orphanage.



Les Mills Combat, a mixed martial arts inspired workout program, is one of my personal favorites. It has three schedules with increasing levels of difficulty and 7 workouts for a nice variety. Plus you get a free bonus workout Les Mills Combat 30 Live. This program is $59.95 and comes with a 60 day money-back guarantee. Those who want to challenge themselves to the hardest Les Mills Combat level will need the Ultimate Warrior DVDs, sold separately for $29.95.



For those who want to push themselves to the limit, Insanity is another personal favorite. Shaun T encourages you to dig deeper with high intensity interval training. You also get a bonus Fast and Furious workout, the intensity of Insanity packed into 20 minutes. The rest of the workouts range from 30-65 minutes. Insanity is $119.85 and has a 60 day money-back guarantee. If this program seems too long, Shaun T also has a new program called T25 that takes just 25 minutes a day 5 days a week. It’s also $119.85 and has a 30 day money-back guarantee.



Exercise Equipment

Those who like Insanity, Insanity:The Asylum, Turbofire, P90X, or any workout that requires a lot of jumping might want a BeachBody Jump Mat to protect their knees, back, and ankles. This mat is made of 1/4 inch thick high-density foam and measures 71″ x 26″. It can be rolled up tightly for easy storage. It’s also slip resistant, which is helpful if you’re like me and have parquet floors that make it hard to get the most out of pushups. It’s $59.85. For those who just need a mat for yoga, BeachBody offers a thick, textured yoga mat measuring 24″ x 68″ for $29.95.



The P90X Chin-Up Bar can help develop and strengthen the shoulders, back, and arms. It has pro-grade close-grip handles with multiple grip positions and is made of heavy-gauge steel (max weight 300lbs). A sturdy doorway up to 32″ wide is required, and the border trim must be at least 5″ wide but no wider than 6.5″. This chin-up bar is used in P90X, P90X2 and Insanity:The Asylum. It can be purchased separately for $59.95 or as part of the P90X and Asylum deluxe kits (in the previous links). If you can’t use a chin-up bar, don’t fret; both P90X and Asylum show you how to do modifications with a resistance band. You can also use resistance bands in place of weights. BeachBody offers a range of B-Lines Band Kits for 15-30 lbs, 20-40 lbs, and 40-50 lbs.



Push-ups are part of a lot of programs, but they can be hard on the wrists. To help strengthen and sculpt while reducing strain on the wrists and forearm, Tony Horton developed PowerStands. They feature non-skid circular bases for stablity and foam grips to reduce hand strain. PowerStands are $39.90. BeachBody also sells a set of Push-Up Stands that allow for greater range of motion to increase the intensity of your workout while keeping your nose out of the carpet. They feature nonskid rubber feet for stablity and safety. The push-up stands are $19.95.



It’s a good idea to have a heart rate monitor so you can train in your optimal cardio zone. This Bowflex Strapless Heart Rate Monitor provides accurate ECG readings without requiring a chest strap, and getting a reading is as simple as pressing the touch sensors. It’s also water resistent so you don’t have to worry about sweating on it. Other special features include high and low target limits with an alarm, night vision, a stopwatch and countdown timer, and more. It is $74.85. There is also a version with a chest strap, which sells for $59.85.



Foam rollers can be used for a form of sports massage called self-myofascial release in order to reduce muscle and joint pain and enhance athletic performance. Now there are RumbleRollers which have uneven and raised nodules designed to give an even deeper tissue massage than regular foam rollers. Used regularly, they can help reduce muscle and joint pain for better mobility. They also have a built-in antimicrobial additive to help prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus. BeachBody sells two lengths of RumbleRollers, 12 inches ($49.95) and 31 inches ($69.90). For those who prefer traditional foam rollers there are ones in lengths of 18 inches ($19.95) and 31 inches ($29.95).


If none of these sound like the right program or equipment for you or the person you’re looking to buy a gift for, check out the rest of the shop for plenty of other ideas. If you need help picking something out, shoot me a message, and I’ll be happy to help you find a good fit for you or your gift recipient’s interests and fitness level as well as your budget.


This post was inspired by One Chocolate Box’s Christmas Spectacular Blog Hop prompt requesting posts on Christmas shopping, including gift guides. If you’d like to join the linkup challenge, check out the prompts and post your link on Toni’s post for whichever day you’ve written for. You can also enter to win $60. Thanks for checking out this post and for shopping with me if you do. Happy holidays!

Note: I am a BeachBody coach and make a commission on sales of BeachBody products. If you shop with me, thanks for your support!

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