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September 26, 2013

Consumer Reports: Tricks to boost your energy

Sometimes caffeine or sugar might seem like the only fix for that 3 p.m. slump, notes Consumer Reports. But in some cases, fatigue has more to do with the mind than with the body, according to Dr. Roy Sugarman, a neuropsychologist in Sydney.

Use the right techniques and you can feel more energized — even without that afternoon latte. Consumer Reports suggests these seven ways to do just that, based on tips from Sugarman and recent medical research:

Stand up and move. Your brain equates being seated to being stuck and responds by restricting energy. If you have to sit for long periods for work or other reasons, try standing up every 45 minutes and performing a few lunges. "Nothing too strenuous, but these stretches can give you more energy by telling the brain that you're still mobile," says Sugarman, who serves as director of applied neurosciences at Athletes' Performance, a company that trains professional and Olympic athletes. Or even better, see whether a stand-up desk is an option.

Spread out your tasks. Whether it's paperwork or physical errands, break your workload into small, manageable assignments that you can spread over the course of a day or an afternoon. That helps you avoid the "push/crash" cycle, in which you do too much all at once, then are exhausted for a while. For best impact, try to alternate mental tasks with physical ones.

Rock out, then have a chat. "Music, even of low intensity, seems to prevent performance decrements over time," according to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). Stay stimulated by playing soft background music, especially if it helps cover up the continuous hum of an air conditioner or other white noise, which can induce drowsiness. The organization also recommends socializing throughout the day via "actively involved" conversations; no eavesdropping on others' conversations or relying on only electronic communications.

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