Does Working Out When You're Tired Help or Hurt?

Posted by Nicolle Mackinnon on

We've all been there: You're coming off of a busy work day where you didn't feel like you had a chance to breathe, let alone sit down, and you're totally spent. But, nagging at you is the fact that you didn't get a workout in this morning. So do you succumb to the exhaustion and a Netflix binge or do you push yourself to hit the gym?

While some studies have demonstrated that regular exercise can help combat fatigue over time, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves this first: WHY are we so tired?

Part of the reason we're more taxed now is because our bodies are still functioning like our ancient ancestors'. Our evolution hasn't caught up to our 2017 lifestyle and our daily environments reflect that:

Then, we work out HARD and we drive our cortisol levels up. Cortisol is the body's stress hormone that engages our fight or flight reactions, and impacts pretty much all our internal systems, aging us unnecessarily. And those hormones don't really differentiate between the surge needed to outrun a tiger and the boost we recruit by going at it on the treadmill.

But that's not to say we should quit our workouts entirely. Instead, we need to work out smarter. When we're tired, like actually didn't get enough sleep or our intellection was taxed all day, we need to give our body time to recover. That means choosing workouts that have recovery built in. Try:

  • Yoga, especially restorative yoga. These practices consider recovery part of the workout, and focus on mindfulness, which can drive stress hormones down.
  • Interval training. Again, recovery time is built in here, so your body can rest in between full-out sessions. 
  • Walking. Just a gentle stroll can do wonders for mind and body without the added stress. 

Next time you skip the gym in favor of a well-deserved nap or a hot bath, skip the guilty feeling too. Remind yourself that our bodies need recovery and choosing restoration can be just as rewarding as an intense workout.

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