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Healthy Aging

Healthy Body

Age-Defying Energy Levels

Age doesn’t have to drain your energy levels. Discover how to get more energy and feel your best every day with these tips from a Johns Hopkins expert.

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Move More for Heart Benefits

How can you fit more exercise into your day, or become more physically active if you haven’t been before? Begin with small starts like these, and build up from there.

  • Park your car at the far end of a parking lot, so you have farther to walk to a building's entrance.
  • Choose the stairs rather than the elevator.
  • Spend part of your lunch break walking.
  • On bad-weather days, try walking indoors at a mall.
  • Wake up a bit earlier and exercise before you do anything else.
  • Use a wearable fitness tracker to count your steps. Try increasing your daily steps by 500 each week with the goal of reaching 10,000 steps per day, a level that can produce many health benefits.

Getting older doesn’t automatically mean less vibrancy and vigor, or lower energy levels—no matter what our youth-obsessed culture would have you believe.

That said, there are a few key principles that can give you a boost as you age. Here’s how to get more energy.

Eat (mostly) whole foods.

Fresh, whole, unprocessed foods renew energy levels with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

“Packaged, processed foods tend to make you feel sluggish and heavy,” says Johns Hopkins geriatrician Alicia Arbaje, M.D., M.P.H.

Eat animal products (especially red meat) in moderation—they take longer to digest, which saps energy.

Check your vitamin D.

Vital for energy levels and mood, vitamin D is best taken in through a little sunshine; when UV rays hit the skin, they get transformed into D.

The bad news: As you age, your skin gets less efficient at converting sunlight to D.

“I don’t usually recommend supplements, but a vitamin D supplement is often a smart idea,” says Arbaje. “You can ask your doctor for a test to find out if you’re deficient.”

Revitalize with vitamin B12.

Another vitamin that’s key for energy levels is B12. It’s found naturally in animal products (remember: moderation). Many nondairy milks (such as soy and almond) are fortified with B12 too.

Move more.

Even a few minutes of movement a few times a day can prevent dips in energy levels. If you can, take a walk in the morning sunshine.

You’ll get energized for the day, and the dose of early sun helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which helps you sleep better at night.

Review your medications.

Many drugs—including high blood pressure medications, antidepressants and antihistamines—have side effects that can sap energy levels.

“Every three to six months, review all of your meds with your primary care doctor and ask: ‘Do I still need this? Can I lower the dose? Are there alternatives?’ ” says Arbaje.

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