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Feeling sluggish? Exercise for energy

Becoming one with the couch is such a seductive idea when you're fatigued.

Why be active when you can give in to inertia?

But if you aren't being productive or aren't enjoying your day as much as you'd like because you're so tired, the solution may be as simple and surprising as moving more.

“Energy begets energy,” said Grace DeSimone, national group fitness director of Plus One Health Management Inc. in New York City.

As you exercise, you feed the body more energy, said Chris McGrath, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise.

“Exercise is invigorating. It gets endorphins going,” said McGrath, with Movement First in New York City. Endorphins are substances the body makes that produce feelings of well-being.

But you don't need high-intensity workouts to feel better.

In fact, if you overdo exercise, especially when you begin, you may experience so much discomfort you'll be back on the couch.

Your goal should be 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which is 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Moderate means you should be able to carry on a conversation while you're doing the physical activity, according to DeSimone.

For example, start with a brisk walk.

“Take a friend and have a conversation. You'll feel better,” DeSimone said.

Break your exercise into small chunks of time, such as climbing the stairs at work or walking down them.

“Walk around, pace around while you're on the phone. It will help reduce fatigue,” DeSimone said.

As you progress, you can add variety to your fitness routine, providing benefits to different parts of the body.

Again, don't feel compelled to follow a certain style of exercise, such as cross training, to reduce fatigue or boost your energy.

“Cross training (an exercise plan that includes several different styles of training) is a beautiful, wonderful thing, but not required. Just sticking with the same exercise is good. But you will crave something different,” DeSimone said.

What's the best time of day to exercise?

As long as you get some physical activity during the day, it doesn't matter when you fit it in, the experts say.

“What's the best time of the day (to exercise)? Whenever you can do it is the best time,” McGrath said.

The “when” might not be as important as keeping the same time every day, DeSimone said.

“Your body adjusts to a schedule,” she said.

Having a routine might also mean you'll be less likely to overlook physical activity when you have a rushed day.

If exercise doesn't perk up your sleepy head, check for other causes of fatigue.

Prolonged fatigue could be due to poor diet, lack of sleep or a health condition, according to fitness experts.

It's important to examine why you're so tired, DeSimone said.

“Is the why because you don't move around enough, or you don't eat well? These things work together,” she said.

Your lack of energy could also stem from a chronic condition, DeSimone said.

Talk with your health care provider if you don't feel better after adding physical activity to your day.

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