Optimal Energy for Executive Athletes

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by Dr. Jeff Rosenberg

What does it mean when a driven person says, “I’m feeling lazy”; or “I’m too tired”? You might think it’s simply a mood, or a phase. But in fact, these states are symptoms of an energy problem. Strange as it may seem, an energy problem makes it impossible to work well, and simultaneously lowers motivation to do so.

When we operate at our optimal energy level, we maximize productivity, meet challenges head-on, and simply accomplish more. More work gets done, and the quality of work delivered improves as well. Sadly, few people actually manage to operate at optimal energy. A study at the USC Marshall school of business discovered that a staggering 82% of business leaders are not working at their optimal energy level.

A drop in energy is bad for any professional adult, but especially for an executive athlete. Energy is the vigor that keeps executive athletes capable of tackling heavy workloads and meeting tight deadlines--a must for any entrepreneur or executive. When energy levels drop below their peak, performance drops, and even naturally motivated people will avoid challenges or exhibit symptoms of burnout.

Here are five simple ways to boost and maintain your energy.

Eat more snacks
Our bodies need fuel. You'd be shocked at how often low energy levels are simply the fault of falling blood sugar levels. Don't mistake low blood sugar for an excuse to eat junk, however. Unhealthy, sugary processed snacks only set you up for another even worse crash later. Instead, count on protein to get your energy level back. Protein keeps blood sugar levels steady and slows digestion. It will give you a lasting energy for hours, and with fewer empty calories. Some good protein snacks include nuts, seeds, hummus and edamame. If you need a burst of liquid energy, consider a cup of green tea instead of coffee. The tea’s regulated, natural caffeine will perk you right up.

Change the scenery
The fastest way to get out of a funk that low levels of energy can create is a change of scenery. Get out of your chair and walk outside for a bit. Head to a coffee shop or even a café. Take a short trip to the park. You’re not imagining it: getting some sun and a brief change of environment actually boosts serotonin levels for a better mood and greater productivity.

Take a power nap
It may seem counterproductive to go to sleep midday, but a 15 to 20 minute power nap is actually proven to bring energy levels back to their peak without the associated grogginess from a longer nap. In fact, while brain activity and energy usually drop progressively throughout the day, researchers at the Salk Institute for biological studies found that a nap can keep both levels consistent all day.

Listen to music
A simple way to maintain your energy is to listen to a high-energy song. Music has a huge impact on our psyche, which is why it should be no surprise that high-energy music has proven to boost our own energy levels and inspire creativity. So what is high-energy music? Any song that is at least 130 bpm. The genre and style of the music do not matter. Just pick a song with a fast beat, and let it move you.

Get inspired
For genuine motivation, turn to people who think like you do, not to Internet technology. Trusted friends and colleagues who have energetic, happy personalities are contagious, but only in person. Too often corporate athletes are tempted to text a partner or friend or use social media for motivation, but this actually has a tendency to lower energy levels more than it raises them. Instead, in person, one-on-one interaction is proven to energize, even for introverts.

Dr. Rosenberg is a member of the New York Chiropractic Council. He operates the Rosenberg Wellness Center and provides training and conditioning expertise to D10 athletes at select New York-area events.