When we buy the family groceries each week,” he said, “I get one of those 2-pound cans of coffee.”
“That’s a lot of coffee for a family to drink in one week,” I said.
“Oh, that’s not for the family,” he said. “That’s just for me.” Turns out that same man, who cranked himself up with coffee during the day, slowed himself down with a six-pack at night. If his kidneys don’t get him, his liver probably will.
Reminds me of the weary man who drank 30 cups of coffee a day. “Doesn’t that keep you awake?” his friend asked. “No,” the man said, “but it helps.”
Given the growing number of workers who don’t get enough sleep and who struggle with fatigue, caffeine is the conventional way to boost energy. Now I’m familiar with the diverse writings in the press about caffeine, and you probably are, too, so I won’t go over them one more time. But I do want to suggest a different approach to boosting energy and lessening fatigue.
Researchers at the University of Georgia’s exercise physiology laboratory conducted a randomized control trial to examine the effects of regular exercise on subjects’ feelings of energy and fatigue. (Puetz, T.W., Flowers, S. S. and O’Connor, P. J. (2008). Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 77, 3, 167-174.)
The researchers recruited 36 volunteers who did not exercise regularly and who reported struggling with persistent fatigue. They divided volunteers randomly into three groups.
The first group did 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks; the second group did low-intensity aerobic exercise for the same time period. Subjects used exercise bikes that allowed researchers to control the exercise workload: 40 percent of peak oxygen consumption for the low-intensity group and 75 percent of peak oxygen consumption for the moderate-intensity group. A third control group did no exercise at all.
Both the low- and moderate-intensity groups experienced a 20 percent increase in energy levels, but surprisingly the low-intensity group showed a greater reduction in reported levels of fatigue than the moderate-intensity group (65 percent compared to 49 percent).
The researchers concluded that the participants’ increase in energy and the lessening of fatigue were not related to attaining some new level of aerobic fitness, but rather that exercise, even at low levels of intensity, acts directly on the central nervous system to increase energy and reduce fatigue.
Instead of loading up on caffeinated beverages and so-called energy drinks, consider having a competent Personal Trainer design an appropriate fitness program that you can stick with. Of course, that would include some basic instruction about sound nutrition.
People who exercise and eat right find it’s the preferred way to boosting energy and combating fatigue.
Yours in good health.
Andy Vines of NEOS Personal Training Studio can be reached at 541/383-4569, www.neosforlife.com.