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5 simple exercises to boost your energy levels and keep you alert

By Michael Crump | 16 August 2017

Before you begin exercising you need the motivation to do so. The hardest part of exercising can be getting started and finding that incentive to get up and do physical activity. This is largely a psychological obstacle to overcome and there are a few tricks you can do to get that motivation.

Remind yourself how good you feel after exercising. Sure, your limbs hurt and you’re sweaty but you feel energetic and revitalized, even after 30 minutes of light activity.

Tell yourself you deserve to feel good and treat yourself. There are many ways to indulge – dessert, reality TV, etc. Think of exercise as something that you deserve, not something you have to force yourself to do. So give yourself a little love, exercise your body and it will continue to serve you well for the rest of your life.

Pump yourself up by listening to one or two songs that really make you want to move and feel like you can do anything. Maybe Rocky was onto something.

Start by humming the music from Rocky’s training montage.

asian woman doing sit ups on yoga mat

You’re ready to get physical – start with these simple exercises

You’ve been sitting at your desk, working or studying for hours and you can just feel your productivity slipping away from you. You’ve been rewriting that sentence for the last 15 minutes and it still doesn’t sound right. In fact, it may actually sound worse than when you started.


You know you’re being less than productive right now. So why not take a break and do some of the following exercises?

Seriously, it really is that simple!

Walking or running

Whether you’re at home or in the office, walking or running can be an amazing way to boost your energy and productivity levels. If you’re headed outside for a walk, leave the smartphone behind. Look at the sky, the trees – anything but a screen and you will return to your work feeling like a new person. If you’re headed for the treadmill or a run outside, you probably have your music on your phone and you’ll need to have it with you.

Minimise distractions by having a playlist prepared ahead of time and do whatever it takes to get that heart rate up! Pretend there are zombies chasing you, get really angry, set distances goals…Whatever it takes to get your feet moving.

Yoga and stretching

Taking half an hour to do some simple stretches can do wonders for your focus and productivity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or can do the splits, everyone benefits from stretching their limbs. With most of us working behind computers for hours at a time, the repetitive movements and constant sitting can wreak havoc on our bodies. Here are some easy but extremely beneficial exercises you can do at your desk to relieve tension and clear your mind.

yoga class


Turn away from the screen and close your eyes. Breathe in slowly, for 4-8 counts and breathe out for the same amount of counts. Do this 8 times. Focus on your breath and try your best to keep all other thoughts at bay.

  • Stretch your arms out in front of you and slowly rotate your wrists clockwise 10 times. Do this counter clockwise as well.
  • Rotate your shoulders 10 times forward and 10 times backward.
  • Rotate your neck 10 times in one direction and the opposite direction.
  • Twist your upper body from left to right 10 times in each direction.
  • Slowly rotate your ankles clockwise 10 times. Do this counter clockwise as well.

Listen to your body and do any other movements that feel good. Remember to go slow and repeat each movement on both sides of the body.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi can be that time of the day you dedicate to yourself and to your wellbeing. Start by closing your eyes and breathing in and out to counts of 4-8, 8 times. Sun salutations are a great way to inject some yoga into your life. If you’ve never done yoga before, check out these illustrations with step-by-step instructions to get you started.

If you’re more advanced, warm up with sun salutations and then go into whatever poses feel right to you at that particular moment.  You can do these in the park, or at a quiet area in the gym for just half an hour on your lunch break and you’ll see productivity increase tenfold.

Did you know tai chi is one of the most effective exercises for health of mind and body?

Squats, lunges and crunches

The triple threat of exercises to get you to sweat, get your heart rate up and even tone you in the process. You can do these at home, in the office or outside. No special equipment needed – just two feet and a heartbeat!


  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips.  Your toes should be pointed slightly outward – about 5 to 20 degrees outward.
  • Look straight ahead and pick a spot on the wall in front of you. Look at this spot the entire time you squat, not looking down at the floor or up at the ceiling.
  • Put your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground.
  • Pull in your abs, and keep your spine in a neutral position - don’t round your back and don’t hyper extend and over accentuate the natural arch of your back.
  • Push your butt back. Keep sending your hips backward as your knees begin to bend. Keep your back straight, with your neutral spine, and your chest and shoulders up.
  • As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet. Don’t let your knees go past your toes!
  • Squat down until your hip joint is lower than your knees and squeeze your butt at the top to make sure you’re using your glutes.
  • Remember: keep your body and core tight the entire time.

You’ll get squat done at work if you don’t do these squats.


  • Stand up straight, with your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips. Flex your abdominal muscles inward and upward.
  • Step forward with your right foot approximately 2 or 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9m). The taller you are, the further you will need to step forward. Keep your back straight as your body moves forward.
  • Lift your left foot up slightly, so that the toe is in contact with the floor, but your heel is not.
  • Bend both of your knees at the same time. The aim is to make both of your knees stop at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your right knee does not go over your toe line.
  • Pause in this position for 1 to 5 seconds. Stopping your forward momentum will help you to put more effort into rising from the lunge.
  • Push off of your right heel to rise. Return your right leg to its starting position.
  • Repeat with the left leg.

Fluorescent spandex is always optional!


  • Lie on your back on the floor. Use a mat or carpeted surface.
  • Bend your knees. Your feet can be flat on the floor or suspended in the air.
  • Cross your arms in front of your chest. You can also place your hands behind your neck or head. Keep your gaze on the ceiling and your neck as relaxed as possible so you don’t strain it.
  • Lift your shoulders towards the ceiling using your abdominal muscles and pause at the peak. Do not lift your entire back off the floor - this can cause back strain. When your shoulders are off the ground, pause and hold that position for a full second (or more).
  • Ease back down slowly as you inhale. The movement down should be controlled.

Repeat whenever you’re feeling sluggish!

woman on treadmill

Beyond exercise to increase productivity

Check out our article 3 Productivity Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Time on how to increase productivity not just through exercise, but also through some other methods If you’re interested in learning more about fitness on a more serious level, check out our Natural Therapy courses and explore the possibility of eating, living and breathing health.

Exercise can make you feel better: it's as simple as that!

So, whether you’re a fitness fanatic or just considering the idea of exercise, remember, it’s not just for after work. Taking the time for self-care while you’re labouring on that project or assignment is crucial to being productive. With enough time and effort, you can go from producing work at the speed of Garfield to the speed of Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory.

View all Self improvement articles

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