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Too tired to exercise? Here’s what to do.

By Hayley McKinnon

Even though I enjoy getting my heart pumping on most days, some days I’m completely exhausted and just want to curl up on the couch. Of course I know I should resist the temptation. But it’s a struggle.

tired woman exercising

So here’s what I do to motivate myself to keep moving even when I don’t want to do a thing. And sure enough, I feel so much better!

5 ways to stay off the couch and get moving

1. Just do 10 minutes of anything. That’s right – 10 minutes. Walk around the block or up and down the stairs a couple of times. Once you’re on the move even a little bit, you may surprise yourself and keep going. You don’t have to get all of your movement all at once either. More and more research is showing that short periods of movement during the day are incredibly beneficial to fight all the negative effects of sitting.

2. Call a friend. Just like you get together for happy hour with friends after a bad day at work, call a friend to get together for a walk or class when you don’t feel like exercising.

The buddy system is a good idea for ongoing motivation too. Sticking to your workout routine will be a whole lot easier if you have someone to hold you accountable and provide encouragement on the days when you’re feeling less-than-enthusiastic about exercise. Choose someone who can both motivate and empathize with you when you need it. I know friends who schedule a regular detox/re-tox. The two go to a yoga class together and then out for a delicious dinner to catch up with each other.

3. Skip the cardio. You may not realize that if you’re already feeling fatigued and stressed, doing cardio exercise is the very last thing your body needs. Here’s the real deal:

  • Weight training is especially good for the days when you can barely drag yourself to the gym. It offers the same benefits as cardio – toning, increasing endorphins, boosting general physical health – but doesn’t require seemingly impossible amounts of energy.
  • Lifting weights increases bone density, which is great news for women at risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Excessive cardio causes undue stress to the adrenal glands, which can leave you feeling even more exhausted post-workout than you did beforehand.
  • Weight and resistance training is just as effective as cardio when it comes to losing weight. What’s more, lifting weights increases your resting metabolism, meaning that your body will burn more fat while you’re sitting at your desk. Now that’s a serious perk.

4. Switch it up. For me, trying something new is a great way to stay motivated. And once I started looking, I found there are literally hundreds of ways to get moving – from online streaming classes for every level, to boutique fitness classes if I really want to challenge myself. Because classes can be expensive, I always check to see if gyms or studios offer special pricing for the first class. Many also offer reduced rate weekly community classes that feature a new instructor in training.

You don’t have to switch it up completely either. Bored of yoga? Experiment with a Pilates class instead. Sick of spinning? Try a walking or running club, or put some music on and dance in your house. If you walk every day, explore a new route or do your walk at a different time of the day.

Finding a workout that will shift your perception of exercise from just “another obligation” to something you can look forward to – and even enjoy – will make it a whole lot easier to shake off the fatigue and motivate you toward achieving your goals.

5. Try pre-workout supplements. A pre-workout boost can offer the energy you need to power through your workout. I’m definitely not suggesting high-sugar energy drinks full of toxic chemicals. Instead, try B vitamins sprays, adrenal support supplements or protein-rich foods that will support your energy levels – without a sugar crash later.

And finally, if you’re truly too tired to exercise, you should listen to your body. Any professional athlete will tell you that rest days are just as important – if not more important – as even the best workouts. Devoting time to self-care in order to replenish your body, mind and spirit is often the most beneficial thing you can do in pursuit of your fitness goals. And yes, self-care can include naps.

If you think you have an adrenal issue…

Are you always too tired? Not just for exercise – but for almost everything? You may be suffering from an adrenal issue. Intense and frequent cardio exercise causes undue stress to the adrenal glands. Over time, this kind of chronic stress can develop into full-blown adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance, leading to a wide variety of related health issues.

If you think you have an adrenal issue, switch to yoga or walking. If you still are too exhausted, it is okay to stop exercising all together for a while until you feel better and want to try again. Exercise should help you to feel energized and have more mental capacity. If you feel like you have been completely exhausted or notice that brain fog setting in, then you have done too much.

star Want to add more power to your walk? See our easy suggestions to maximize the benefits of walking.
Last Updated: February 27, 2023
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