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Simple steps for boosting energy, from the Harvard Men's Health Watch

Some days do you feel like the Energizer Bunny with a weak battery—starting strong but unable to keep going and going? There are several ways to help boost flagging energy, like pacing activities, taking power naps, and eating healthfully, according to the June 2013 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch. One thing that doesn't work: taking overhyped dietary supplements.

Sometimes fatigue is due to a medical condition. If that's been ruled out, here are a few basic steps to maintain energy throughout the day:

Set a steady pace: With age, the energy "battery" may not be able to store quite the charge it used to. "It's fully charged but it's smaller and you have fewer hours of energy in it," says Dr. Fabiny, chief of geriatrics at Cambridge Health Alliance and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "If you try to do all the things you did in the past, you could end up feeling tired." Instead of burning through the battery in two hours, spread it out between morning tasks, afternoon tasks, and evening activities—with rest and meals between.

Take a walk: When daytime fatigue stems from chronic sleeplessness (insomnia), napping can make it worse. Instead of napping, get up and take a walk. For people who sleep well at night, a 20- to 30-minute power nap may word wonders.

Fuel up: Sugary bakery treats deliver plenty of calories to rev up energy in the morning, but the body tends to metabolize them quickly. The result is often a sinking blood sugar level and fatigue. Instead, eat a breakfast or lunch with protein and fiber and moderate carbs—like low-fat yogurt with a sprinkling of nuts, raisins, and honey. The body burns a carb-fiber-protein mix more gradually. And don't skip meals: Your body needs a certain number of calories to get through the work of the day.

Skip the supplements: Don't believe claims that the widely hyped supplement known as DHEA is an anti-aging supplement. "There is absolutely no evidence that DHEA provides any benefit," Dr. Fabiny says. Taking extra B vitamins doesn't boost energy either . The same can be said for iron supplements, and getting too much iron can actually be harmful. Get your vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients the old fashioned way—in food.

Read the full-length article: "Boost energy with these everyday steps"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch

  • Should you take an erectile dysfunction drug to also ease urinary woes?
  • On call: Is mercury in fish dangerous?
  • On call: How did I get a urinary tract infection?
  • Boost energy with these everyday steps
  • Screening savvy: You're likely at low risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Better balance: Mental and physical fitness are both essential
  • 7 ways to make a visit to the doctor more successful
  • In the journals: How sweet it's not: Sugary drinks take a toll on health
  • In the journals: Generic cholesterol drug works as well as the brand-name version
  • In the journals: Testing for the 'ulcer bug' makes daily aspirin safer
  • In the journals: Many scans for back pain may be unnecessary

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.