Can Exercise Really Leave You with More Energy?

It is a common misbelief that exercising leaves you tired. And in some cases, it is true. However, when done properly, exercising can actually leave you with more energy than when you started; numerous study results prove this over and over again. Let me explain.

Energy Production

Our bodies are very efficient machines; they only do as much work as necessary. If our energy demand is low, so will the production of energy to meet that demand.

At the heart of energy production are little “energy factories” called mitochondria within each cell. Simplistically their job is to take food and turn it into energy to fuel our body. The more energy we use, the harder mitochondria work to meet the energy demand – up to a point.

Factors Determining Energy 

Studies have shown there are four basic factors that determine energy levels:

  • Hydration
  • Food
  • Intensity
  • Duration


Dehydration itself can cause fatigue, which is why trainers push drinking water before, during and after working out. To prevent dehydration, start at about three hours before working out and up to the beginning of your workout, drinking 3 cups of water. During your exercise routine, drink about a cup of water every 20 minutes. Post-workout drink about 3 cups of water per pound of weight lost during your workout.


If your mitochondria don’t have enough food to work with, they can’t create the energy needed for your training. Therefore, eat something like some fresh fruit about 30 minutes to an hour before starting your training. It should be broken down and ready to use by the time you start working out.


Studies have shown that more is not necessarily better. Low and moderate intensity training seem to produce the best results as far as having more energy. High intensity had the opposite effect and actually did create fatigue. Exercises like yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, walking and even resistance training when done at a slow level, produced the best results.


Again, more is not better. Exercising for long periods of time – like 45 minutes to an hour at a time or more – did not produce a decrease in fatigue as well as working out 20 to 30 minutes.

The journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics published result of a study in 2008, where the University of Georgia researchers found sedentary participants who complained of fatigue increased their energy level by 20% while decreasing their fatigue level by as much as 65% simply by participating in regular, low-intensity exercise. It is hard to argue with those results!


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