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Too pooped to drag yourself to your favorite Spinning class? A little sweat session may be just what you need to recharge your batteries. Just 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise -- done at 60 to 75 percent of maximum heart rate -- has been shown to significantly improve both mood and energy levels, says Tom LaFontaine, PhD, a clinical exercise physiologist in Columbia, Missouri. Research has shown that exercise elevates serotonin levels to provide an instant lift. The best cardio Rx for an energy boost: Aerobic exercises like running and fast walking, done in the morning, will rev you up for several hours.
Got a case of the energy blahs? Beat them -- pronto -- with our invigorating exercise-ball workout. Most forms of fitness will make you feel more alert, but doing strength moves on a stability ball will really send your body a wake-up call, says Elizabeth Gillies, a Pilates instructor and the author of 101 Ways to Work Out on the Ball (Fair Winds Press, 2004). The ball makes you balance, which improves core strength and posture. "That helps you take in breath better and more efficiently, which gives you an instant boost," explains Gillies. Bonus: You'll also sculpt sexy legs, shoulders, arms, butt, and abs as you reenergize.
Do two sets of each exercise and say so long to sluggishness in seconds!
Exercise isn't the only thing that revs you up. The right foods can also provide a pick-me-up. Aim for a carb-protein snack with about 250 calories, recommends Leslie Bonci, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Some of her favorite choices:A blend of high-fiber cereal, nuts, and dried fruit
"It's got carbs for fuel and protein for a longer-lasting effect, plus lots of fiber and iron."Peanut butter on a banana
"The protein and fat in the peanut butter give you long-lasting energy, while the banana gives you plenty of carbohydrates and the electrolyte potassium."An apple drizzled with honey
"Lots of fiber, plus quick energy from the honey."Popcorn tossed with dried cherries
"It's sweet, salty, crunchy, and chewy, with some fiber to boot."Pretzels or Wheat Thins with a few teaspoons of hummus
"Hummus provides fiber and protein and the pretzels or crackers give you carbs and electrolyte-replacing sodium."
Originally published in Fitness magazine, September 2005.