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Tips for boosting my flagging energy

I find my energy flagging lately. I’m not known for napping, but I increasingly feel the mid-afternoon inclination to do so. My daughter says I sigh a lot. My interest in day-long family events is lessening, and a three-hour dinner party seems about an hour too long.

My lowered energy level is not related to any medical condition, I’m fairly sure of that. Although, note to self, it’s always wise to query your health provider when stamina or endurance levels are on the decline.

I know grief can make you feel fatigued. I also know that untended grief can turn into depression. There have been a few sad things in my life of late, but I have good coping skills and a generally hopeful outlook. That’s not it.

Pain, or the inability to manage pain, can be de-energizing. Not an issue for me, at least right now, but it’s a significant one for many. Another note to self: check out whether there’s evidence supporting “marijuana cream” for pain management. And while I’m at it, maybe I’ll find out how the heck to get the stuff.

I’ve considered possible explanations and concluded my lessened energy is an aspect of aging that needs more attention than I’ve been giving it. I should develop a variety-filled stable of energy boosters for ongoing reference. And so I have — read on.

Let’s start with this. A brisk walk on a crisp, fall day or a long pedal on a stationary bicycle are good options. Research strongly recommends aerobic activity — laughter is definitely aerobic. But sometimes it requires a little staging.

Consumer Reports on Health (November 2015) suggests, “next time you need an afternoon pick-me-up, try watching one of the millions of cat videos on the Internet.”

So I did. I’m not terribly fond of cats, but they do entertain. I watched a particularly funny segment on my iPhone while walking the dog — our spaniel seemed riveted when I showed her a wide-eyed cat surfing down a long flight of stairs and catapulting, legs splayed, into its owner’s arms. Again and again — and again. I think I am becoming energized just recalling the video clip.

Another approach to promoting elder-energy comes from Dr. Andrew Weil, integrative medicine specialist (www.drweil.com). He suggests taking one or more of an array of supplements. I’m not really a fan of supplements, but I liked his reminder about the role of strength training in boosting energy.

“After age 40, we lose one quarter to one pound of muscle each year (replaced by fat),”he said.

Just thinking about that trade-off makes me tired. Bring on those 3-pound dumbbells. Even frail, elderly adults have reported an improved ability to combat age-related weakness through strength training.

The list grows. I came across additional suggestions at www.aplaceformom.com. Ideas such as eating more lean protein from sources you’ve not previously considered, such as edamame and pumpkin seeds. That same website strongly reminds us to “stay well-hydrated with water and tea throughout the day.”

And, not surprisingly, all the experts promote the powerful impact of social connectedness.

Maybe today I’ll invite friends over to drink tea and watch cute cat videos. And tomorrow I’ll add any ideas those friends offer to my list. Onward — always.

Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at Sharon@agefriendlyinnovators.org.