When you turn 50 or 60, no one expects you to have the same energy levels you had in your teens and 20s. Slowing down as you age is normal, but experiencing chronic and extreme fatigue is not. Wanting more energy is evidence of vitality and a healthy appreciation for life, and there are many simple ways to boost your energy level and improve your overall health.
Getting and Staying Active
Making a point to get regular exercise can improve your strength and increase your energy level, according to the National Institute on Aging. You don't have to hit the gym hard to get benefits, either -- just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week is enough to make a positive difference. Brisk walking, gardening, dancing, biking and playing actively with your grandkids all count. If you're not already active, start slowly, with easy 10- or 15-minute exercise sessions, and build up to more challenging activities.
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Hit the Sheets
Aging is the most important factor affecting your sleep rhythm, according to Harvard Medical School physician Julie K. Silver. That means your risk of insomnia increases as you age, and even if you're not an insomniac, you are likely to spend less time in deep sleep. Getting a good night's rest is critical in maintaining a healthy energy level during the day, however. Silver recommends against napping, which can prevent you from feeling tired at night. Instead, take steps to adopt a less busy schedule and reduce your daily responsibilities. Going to bed at the same time every night and following a nightly routine may also help improve sleep quality and quantity.
The link between what you eat and how energetic you feel isn't always obvious, but it's there. Eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods promotes better vitality and higher energy levels -- but when you're tired and your energy is lacking, you're more likely to crave sugary and salty foods that are low on nutrients. Combat cravings by keeping nutrient-rich foods close at hand. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, yogurt or hard-boiled eggs. You may also enjoy better energy levels if you eat fewer, smaller, higher-protein meals throughout the day, according to AARP.
According to a study published in 2007 in the "Journals of Gerontology," senior citizens who consistently feel fatigued have more health problems, hospital stays, home care services and emergency room visits. If your flagging energy levels are severe and simple changes don't seem to make any difference, you could be experiencing a symptom of arthritis, lung disease, anemia, sleep apnea, a heart and kidney disorder, or depression. To rule out any medical causes of fatigue, see your doctor for a checkup.
- Caring.com: Lack of Energy -- Not a Normal Sign of Aging
- National Institute on Aging: Exercise and Physical Activity
- Gather.com: Aging and Energy
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Increase Your Energy Level Through Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise
- AARP: Energy Boosters for Sleepy Caregivers
- Journals of Gerontology: Self-Reported Lack of Energy (Anergia) Among Elders in a Multiethnic Community
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.