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5 Simple Heart-Healthy Energy Boosters

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Want more energy? Who doesn’t? We’d all like to be able to do more and feel better doing it. Fast-fix energy drinks aren’t the answer, despite what TV ads tell you. The key to boosting energy is making healthy, lasting lifestyle changes. Here’s a quick rundown on ways to keep from feeling run down:

Move more. In the short term, increasing physical activity to increase energy seems counterintuitive. In the long term, it works. You don’t have to be a marathoner to see benefits. Just start where you are and do more. If you don’t exercise, walk around the block and gradually work up from there.  Your goal should be to get 30 minutes of brisk activity on five days a week for a total of at least 150 minutes per week. You don’t have to do all 30 minutes at once. Three 10-minutes hikes in a day works too. If you try to do too much too fast, you might get hurt, so start slowly and stick with it.

Eat smart. Eat fresh fruit and veggies; the calcium and potassium they contain is good for energy. If you need a quick snack during the day, keep a serving or two of your favorite fruit or vegetable handy wherever you are.  Avoid big meals; heavy, fatty foods can leave you feeling groggy. Eating smaller and more frequent meals will help balance out your energy and blood sugar levels over the course of the day.  Whole grain fiber-rich foods are a great filler-upper.  Fiber causes food to stay in your stomach longer, so you feel full longer than with quick fixes like coffee, high-calorie energy bars and candy — which rely on caffeine and sugar — and can lead to energy spikes and crashes.) Drink lots of water, too. Dehydration reduces energy levels.

Sleep. How much is enough? Each person is different. Most adults need around seven hours, but you may need more. You need quality sleep, too. If you have sleep apnea, a condition that causes you wake up many times during the night, you won’t get the quality sleep you need and may feel sleepy all day. Heavy snoring is a major sign of sleep apnea. If your spouse or partner says you snore or that you periodically stop breathing for brief periods during sleep, tell your doctor. Sleep apnea can put you at risk for stroke.

Lose a few. Carrying around extra pounds saps energy. It creates extra work for your heart and can raise blood pressure, too. Increasing your physical activity and eating a healthier diet to burn more calories than you take in is the way to go. Steer clear of fad diets; they don’t work.

Lighten up. Stress is an inevitable part of life. That’s why learning to manage it is important. Successfully managing stress means keeping a positive outlook and a healthy lifestyle, which helps fight energy-sapping depression. To take care of yourself, try taking physical activity breaks, meditating, taking time off and doing things you like. Avoid unhealthy ways to manage stress, include smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, overeating and relying on stimulants.

Most people who want more energy can get it. Following the steps above is a good start. You’ll feel more energetic, and feel better overall. You’ll also reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.

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