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Moving to Create Energy

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I have ever thought about drinking coffee with only hot water and creamer -- and leaving the actual coffee out. I smiled and told them no and assured them that I only drink one cup of coffee a day.  A couple of weeks later, I had a similar conversation and the person asked how big the one cup of coffee was that I drink a day because I have seemed to have "a lot of energy." I told them that I do have a lot of energy -- when I'm awake. I have always been a high-energy kind of person.

Where does my energy come from? That question can be answered by biology and physics mostly. I'm going to give you a really high-level, basic physics and biology lesson here. The law of conservation of energy says that energy is constant within a system and energy is neither created nor destroyed. That is true for the earth or the universe as a whole. There is a limited amount of energy available on the earth. However, in human beings and other ecosystems, an open energy system exists. That means that the ecosystem, or the human body, in this case, has an exchange of energy inputs and outputs. 

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay 

How do we input energy into our bodies? Every time we eat, we put food, or energy, into our bodies. When we count calories, we are actually counting a measurement of energy. We are counting how much energy we are putting into our bodies. Once the calories are consumed, then that food energy is converted into energy that our bodies can actually use. The energy is then used or stored in our bodies as fat cells. Fat cells are actually stored energy. Stored energy is potential energy. They contain more potential energy than other cells in your body. I was thinking the other day about how I'm not overweight, I'm full of potential energy! 

How do we create energy? Newton's law of motion states that a body at rest tends to stay at rest. That is, potential energy is going to stay stored until we use it. Newton's law also states that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. When we move our bodies or exert a force, we transform that potential energy into kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is basically a body in motion. When you combine, potential energy and kinetic energy, you get mechanical energy. When you exercise, you are creating mechanical energy. 


What happens when we create energy? We output energy into our environment and exchange energy with that environment. We create force and act upon other ecosystems. We also output energy by losing weight (mass contributes to the amount of potential energy we possess), sweating, and by producing waste. The more energy we create, then the more energy we have to use. Converting potential energy into kinetic energy also triggers our brains to release hormones that make us want to create energy. When we exercise, our bodies release chemicals in the brain like norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and many others. The more we exercise, the more these hormones are released and that makes us feel more energized, too.