tootiredtoexercisemain

Too tired to exercise?

9188 views 4 min to read

Have you ever felt so tired that exercise is the last thing you want to do? Online personal trainer Andrew Cate outlines some common causes of tiredness and looks at how to overcome them.

It’s hard to feel motivated to exercise for health and weight control when you’re always tired.

There are many reasons why people feel tired and fatigued, and your tiredness may stem from a combination of factors.

A poor diet that doesn't provide adequate energy is a key reason you may be feeling fatigued. Some other common causes of tiredness can also include a lack of sleep and partial dehydration. Certain medical conditions may also cause fatigue, so remember to visit your healthcare practitioner for a professional diagnosis.

Is it dangerous to exercise when you’re tired?

Exercise is unlikely to be dangerous, but it’s important to determine what the underlying cause of your tiredness is.

Your healthcare professional can check for a variety of medical conditions such as low iron levels, sleep disorders, thyroid disorders, mental health problems or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Exercise may actually be used to help treat some of these conditions, but the type of activity would be designed and supervised by a professional.

If an underlying medical condition has been ruled out, it might be surprising to know that inactivity and a lack of aerobic fitness may also make you feel tired. Aerobic exercise and conditioning makes your heart stronger, decreases stress, improves mood and leaves you feeling energized. It can also make it easier to fall asleep and can improve the overall quality of your sleep. Just make sure you don’t exercise too close to bed time, as you may find it harder to fall asleep.

Practical tips to overcoming tiredness

The following tips may help you to overcome tiredness and help you to exercise when dealing with tiredness.

  • Eat quality carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are an important fuel source, but it’s best to focus on low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates which gradually release glucose into the blood stream, providing long-term energy. Low GI foods tend to be less processed. Include foods such as beans, whole grains (oats, brown rice) and vegetables.
  • Get plenty of iron – For women in particular, make sure you include plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet, such as red meat and green leafy vegetables. Supplements may also be helpful if your iron levels are low.
  • Go to bed early – Lack of sleep is an obvious contributor to tiredness, but sleeping in may make the problem worse, making it harder for you to fall asleep at your normal time the following night. Go to bed early if you need to catch up on sleep so your normal sleep routine is not disrupted.
  • Drink enough water – The human body loses around 6-8 glasses of water a day, so try to replace that amount to prevent dehydration. A well hydrated body functions more efficiently and is better at transporting nutrients and energy throughout your body. If your goal is to lose weight, or maintain a healthy level of body fat, kilojoule free water is the best choice.
  • Just do it anyhow – Just doing some form of activity can help you get out of that vicious cycle where you feel too tired to exercise, but you need to exercised to stop feeling so tired. Very few things can perk you up and zap fatigue like exercise. Feeling too tired to exercise might be the best possible indicator that you need to exercise to have more energy. 
  • Just do a little – If you are finding it particularly difficult to get motivated and get out the door, start off with the intention of only exercising for 5-10 minutes. At least you’ll feel better for doing something, and who knows, one you’re out there and moving, you might feel like going for longer.
  • Find the best time to exercise – Some people may find an early morning workout helps to energize and motivate them for the rest of the day, while others may prefer to get extra sleep in the morning, and plan their exercise later in the day. Either way, get to know the time of day when your body has the most energy, and plan your daily exercise routine accordingly.
  • Offer yourself incentives – One good way to boost motivation is to promise yourself a small reward after your workout is finished. Just make sure it’s not a food or alcohol based reward that undoes all of your hard work.
  • Do exercises you enjoy – Make sure you participate in activities you enjoy to maximise your motivation to want to exercise, no matter how tired you are.