How does exercise improve energy?

Exercise can do a world of good to boost your energy, so even on days when you don't feel up to it, try to do some kind of physical activity, such as walking, strength training or cardio to kick your feel-good endorphins into high gear. Still uninspired? Try the 10-minute rule. Make a deal with yourself to get moving for at least 10 minutes. Chances are, once you start, you'll feel so much better that you'll keep going.
Emilia Klapp
Nutrition & Dietetics
It may seem paradoxical that exercise, which makes us feel tired afterward, is one of the most important things we can do to boost our energy and fight fatigue. But it does. Exercise improves energy by:
  • Increasing muscle mass
  • Increasing the heart’s pumping volume
  • Reducing body fat
  • Lowering fat in the blood such as bad cholesterol
  • Improving the body’s regulation of blood sugar
  • Improving circulation
  • Boosting mood and mental capacity

It seems logical to assume that exercise would drain your energy and make you tired.  But it literally creates energy in your body. Your body rises up to meet the challenge for more energy by becoming stronger.  This happens on the cellular level, where the first stirrings of our energy production begin. It all begins with tiny organs called mitochondria. Located in our cells, they work like tiny power plants to produce energy. 

Much of the energy we need comes from your diet.  This is why it is important to ensure that you are eating adequately, according to your needs.  But, the number of mitochondria you have, which is your ability to produce energy, is affected by your daily activity.  The more you cardiovascular exercise you perform, the more mitochondria the body makes to produce more energy to meet your needs.  This is one reason performing regular cardiovascular exercise actually creates more available energy for your body. Another reason is due to the fact that you feel better about yourself.  Positive self image can always be related to how you feel.

Exercise is a great way to improve energy levels.  When your body becomes more active internal mechanisms like metabolism and blood flow increase.  It's like your waking your body up from the inside.  Once your metabolism increases to keep up with the demand of work, you have to refuel with healthy foods that in turn provide more energy.  Keeping your body active is the best way to stay alert and energetic.

Exercise can improve energy levels by strengthening the circulation and the heart muscle, and in return will improve energy levels. 


Physical activity will increase your energy levels through many different means. Regular physical activity increases the blood flow to your body and improves your cardiovascular health and fitness. This will allow more blood and oxygen to get to the body providing energy to do work. Regular physical activity also increases production of vital hormones such as thyroid-stimulating  hormone, testosterone, human growth hormone, and catecholamines, all of which help increase your metabolism and give you more energy. Regular physical activity also makes you more efficient at utilizing your body’s stores of fat and sugar for fuel, which allows you to burn them for energy and also helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevent the peaks and valleys that can cause fatigue. All of this will help you see a big increase in energy once you start engaging in regular physical activity.  

Ms. Ashley Koff, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
According to a study, exercise causes your brain to turn up production of certain brain chemicals known to have antidepressant effects, boosting energy. Anything that helps us stave off depression and lift our spirits is good for energy.
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There is no way we can discount the effect moderate exercise has on our energy level. Movement jump starts our metabolic rate, increases the production of endorphins (brain chemicals that give us a sense of well-being) and pushes the cardiac system to pump harder, bringing more blood to the brain.

Experts have found that 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week will give us more get up and go. These minutes can be broken down into smaller increments during the day. A 10-minute walk to the bus stop in the morning, a 10-minute walk at lunch break and 10 minutes to walk back home would work very well.
Eva B. Cwynar, MD
Internal Medicine
Scientists have concluded that one of the best ways to beat fatigue and boost energy is to exercise more, not less. Studies have shown that the more you move -- and it doesn't have to be major movement, just getting up and walking around the room will help -- the more energy you will feel. In fact, a study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics reported that inactive people who normally complained of fatigue could increase energy by 20% and decrease fatigue by as much as 65% by simply participating in regular, low-intensity exercise. Other studies have shown that you can increase more energy and reduce more fatigue through exercise than by using stimulant medications, and that this applied across the board to every group that was studied, including healthy adults, cancer patients, and people with diabetes and heart disease.

The explanation for this goes deep into the cellular level of the body, where we find the mitochondria, those tiny, energy-producing organs found in every cell of the body. The more you move around, the more mitochondria your body makes to meet your energy needs. The more mitochondria you have, the greater the boost to your metabolism, and the greater your ability to produce more energy.
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Kirsi Bhasin
Nutrition & Dietetics

There are dozens of reasons to exercise on a regular basis--from reduced body fat, increased muscle mass, protection from a number of deadly diseases, not to mention a healthier physical build, to the slew of emotional and mental benefits exercise confers. Exercising on a regular basis is one of the absolute best things you can do for your health, regardless of your reasons for doing it. There is one big benefit from exercise, however, that can and will benefit you in almost every aspect of your life: energy. Studies have shown time and time again that exercise helps you feel more energetic and alert over time.

There are many reasons that this could be the case. I am sure you’ve all noticed that any kind of physical exertion creates an increased need for oxygen. Based on your level of physical fitness, you may notice this need sooner than others, but we all find ourselves breathing heavier and faster during exercise. Because of this increased consumption of oxygen, our lung capacity also increases with exercise. Over time, with continued exercise, aerobic capacity increases, allowing you to deliver more and more oxygen to your brain and blood stream, helping you feel more awake, alert, and ready to go. Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15-25% would be like shaving ten to twenty years off your age. Imagine feeling ten years younger just because you started exercising!

In addition to allowing more oxygen to reach your brain and blood stream, exercise allows your blood itself to circulate more efficiently, bring more oxygen to your muscles and allowing for increased functioning throughout your body and heightened energy production.

In addition to helping more oxygen reach your brain and bloodstream, physical activity produces endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals produced at the base of your brain and, when released, produce feelings of pain relief and well-being. In fact, the term “runners’ high” refers to feelings of joy and excitement produced during strenuous physical activity because of the release of endorphins into the blood stream. But even moderate or light physical activity will cause your body to release endorphins, creating similar, if not as strong, effects on your mood. This lifting of your spirits and mood also creates the effect of making you feel more energized and ready to take on the rest of your day.

Samantha Reid
Health Education
Exercise can improve energy in the following ways:
  • releases endorphins
  • helps with quality of sleep
  • helps manage stress
  • trains the heart to work more efficiently, getting more oxygen to the brain and other organs

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.