Having adrenal fatigue can be absolutely draining, and many people think that they simply cannot exercise. While exercise may seem next to impossible when fatigue is impacting day to day life the great news is that there are some ways to stay fit with adrenal fatigue.
With some modifications and the right exercises, exercise may actually help alleviate certain symptoms, while making it possible to stay fit with adrenal fatigue.
Let’s start by first talking about what you need to watch out for when exercising with adrenal fatigue so that you can exercise the right way for your body.
Exercise & Adrenal Fatigue
When you have adrenal fatigue, exercise may be the furthest thing from your mind. There’s a good chance that you simply do not have the energy and whatever energy you do have you likely want to preserve to get other things done throughout the day. With that being said, you have likely been told to limit your exercise with adrenal fatigue, and here’s why.
When you are chronically fatigued, exercise is challenging. Exercise is also a physical stressor, and therefore it can worsen HPA dysfunction if you overdo it. (1) Any exposure to chronic stress or inflammation can worsen HPA dysfunction, AKA adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion. This is why you may have been warned against exercise, and for good reason. However, what if you want to stay fit with adrenal fatigue? Are there safe ways to do so without causing further stress on your body?
The great news is yes. There are gentle exercises you can incorporate into your weekly routine to help stay fit with adrenal fatigue, and these exercises may even help you feel better emotionally and physically.
Let’s take a look at the five best ways to stay fit with adrenal fatigue.
5 Ways to Stay Fit with Adrenal Fatigue
Walking is often overlooked because it is not something we generally look at as “working out.” However, walking is one of the most underestimated forms of exercise, and it is an excellent way to get the body moving and to keep your cardiovascular system in good shape. Walking is also low impact, and you can choose where you walk. Try getting outside on a nice day to soak in some sun while getting some light exercise in for an added boost and bring a friend along. You may be surprised at what a good walk can do for both your physical and emotional health.
Yoga is one of my favorite exercise recommendations for anyone suffering from adrenal fatigue. You can adapt each yoga routine to your personal fitness level, and there are so many great poses to help restore energy levels and to maintain strength and stability. Yoga is also great for stress reduction which is a huge part of combatting adrenal fatigue, so it is a great form of exercise for both the mind and the body. Restorative yoga is especially helpful, but you can work your way up to other forms of yoga as you see fit so long as you are not overextending your body. Yoga is also great for including some deep breathing exercises into your practice which can help shut off that fight-or-flight response in the body and reduce stress. Proper breathing can also help reduce fatigue and improve physical and mental wellness. (2)
#3 Gentle Cycling
Cycling can be a low impact form of exercise, and you don’t have to necessarily have a bike. Many gyms offer indoor cycling bikes that you can use, and the great thing about this is that you can set your own pace and ride as you see fit. It’s a great way to keep your cardiovascular system in shape without putting too much strain on the body. Just remember not to overdo it and to keep it light. The goal isn’t to pedal as if you were in a spin class but to pedal at a slow to moderate pace that feels good for your body.
Swimming is a great low-impact form of exercise that can help keep you in shape without you overextending your body. If you like to swim or your local gym has a pool then try doing some laps in the pool to keep your body in shape and to keep the body moving and blood flowing.
While not usually considered exercise, stretching is an important part of any exercise routine whether you suffer from adrenal fatigue or not. Be sure to choose some stretching days on the days that you are not actively exercising. This will help keep your joints and muscles from becoming tight and sore and it will also help relax your body. Try to get a couple of stretch days in per week. You can even use things like a foam roller or yoga blocks.
No matter what type of exercise you choose to do it is essential that you rest. You certainly do not have to exercise every single day especially on days where you just don’t feel up to it, and that’s ok. It’s important to start slow and then slowly work your way up to a level that you can tolerate.
With that being said, always take periods of rest both during exercise and then on your rest days. You will want to focus on getting high-quality nightly sleep and then tune into your body during the days that you feel like you just need a break. If you are feeling extra fatigued, take that day to just do some gentle stretching and maybe some very gentle yoga.
The goal here is not to overdo it but to keep your body moving as much as you can without stressing your body while also helping to boost your energy levels and to help you feel better emotionally.
When talking about staying fit with adrenal fatigue, it is also important to understand that you will want to focus on rebuilding your metabolic reserve. (1) In order to do this, you want to be sure not to overdo your exercise routine as we have been talking about.
Focus on these top 5 gentle yet effective exercises. These exercises are light, but they can help tone the body while also helping to rebuild your metabolic reserve. Rebuilding this reserve involves reducing your emotional stress and exercise is an excellent way to do that. It also means turning off your fight-or-flight response, gently moving the body, reducing inflammation, and balancing blood sugar levels.
All of this can be accomplished with exercise, but again, it is important to only do exercises that are going to work with your body and are not going to cause further stress.
Other Ways to Stay “Fit” With Adrenal Fatigue
While not necessarily physical exercises, staying emotionally “fit” is another way to combat adrenal fatigue and the symptoms that come with it. You will do your body a huge favor when you reduce your overall stress levels and help shut off that fight-or-flight response. Here are some additional strategies to give your body the extra boost it needs when dealing with adrenal fatigue.
Mindfulness is huge and a key player in combating adrenal fatigue. Being mindful is a great way to just be present and to collect yourself during a stressful time, and anyone can do it. To practice mindfulness, take a seat in a quiet and comfortable room and just notice your body and feel your breath. Take notice of when your mind wanders but don’t put any judgment on it and just return to your breath instead. Just keep coming back to your breath each time your mind wanders and be present in the moment. Start with a couple of minutes each day and then slowly increase to 10-15 minutes. That’s all there is to it and practice makes perfect! You could even add some essential oils to your mindfulness practice to bring an extra sense of calm to your practice. Try using Young Living Essential Oils and diffusing it in an oil diffuser throughout your mindfulness practice.
Set Aside You Time
Setting aside time for you on a daily basis is so important. Life is so busy, it is easy to get caught up in the rat race of life and not take any time for ourselves, but when dealing with adrenal fatigue, it is even more important to practice self-care. Try finding just 10-15 minutes per day for you where you can just be present with what is going on. Think about what this would look like for you. Maybe sipping on a cup of herbal tea outside for 10 minutes per day works for you or reading a good book a few minutes before bed. Choose what works for you and make it a habit.
Try finding just 10-15 minutes per day for you where you can just be present with what is going on. Think about what this would look like for you. Maybe sipping on a cup of herbal tea outside for 10 minutes per day works for you or reading a good book a few minutes before bed. Choose what works for you and make it a habit.
For added self-care pick one day a month to do something extra special for yourself. Maybe it’s a spa day or a massage. Book something every month that will make you feel good and will promote better self-care.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is key when dealing with adrenal fatigue. This is even more important when you start adding exercise into your routine. Strive to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, however, keep in mind that this may not be enough sleep for everyone dealing with adrenal fatigue. Try to get to bed before 10 PM each night and cut out caffeine if possible to help with sleep regulation and to prevent any unnecessary cortisol spikes. If sleep is an issue for you, try lowering the temperature in your room, investing in some blackout curtains to keep the light out of your room, and diffusing some lavender essential oil to help promote a restful night sleep.
Find Time to Have Fun
Getting out and having fun is essential for anyone but it is also very important when dealing with adrenal fatigue. You want to reduce as much stress as possible and replace the stress with things that you enjoy doing. Get out and be social, join groups, or just do what makes you happy.
Improve Your Diet
Diet is such a key player in overall health, and adrenal health is no exception here. Try to improve your diet by cutting out processed foods, gluten, dairy, and sugar as much as possible. This will help balance blood sugar levels which is key to combatting adrenal fatigue. Focus on a Paleo style diet focusing on healthy fats and protein with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Try to opt for grass-fed and organic animal products when possible to avoid antibiotic and steroid exposure, and same goes for your produce to reduce your exposure to pesticides. You can also help reduce inflammation through diet and boost gut health by including some probiotic rich foods like sauerkraut, unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha into your diet. Boosting gut health is also an essential part of beating adrenal fatigue.
It’s important to remember that staying fit with adrenal fatigue is more than just staying physically fit. It is also about the emotional aspect of things so be sure to take care of you, get a good night sleep, and incorporate the five best ways to stay fit with adrenal fatigue. You may be surprised at how much better these steps make you feel and the longer you stick to it the better your long-term health outcome may be.
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I know exactly where you are because I’ve been there myself…I remember being so tired that I could barely function. I gained 30 pounds out of nowhere and had a severe case of brain fog. I also started to get severe anxiety and panic attacks. I was driven and motivated…until I wasn’t. I didn’t know what was happening to me. All I wanted was to get my life back…
Finally, I learned about functional medicine and found a practitioner that I hoped could help me. They ran specialized tests that were far different than I had ever had before. When I got the results back, it turned out I had candida, parasites, high cortisol, the Epstein Bar Virus and many food intolerances. I also had an issue with my thyroid that no one found before because they were using the conventional medicine lab ranges which are way too broad….which I now know is one of the leading causes of hypothyroid misdiagnosis.
I went through treatment of all of these things and it completely changed my life. I immediately lost the 30 pounds I had gained plus more, I had a lot more energy, and my brain fog was gone. I felt amazing and knew that I wanted to help people find the underlying causes of their symptoms and disease.
(1) Mercola. (2017) Should You Exercise if You Have Adrenal Fatigue?
(2) Michael Lam. Yoga for Adrenal Fatigue Recovery