Exercising is touted as one of the healthiest habits one can have, but as the saying goes, “All things in moderation.” Exercise is healthy… for everyone, but only when practiced at healthy levels for the individual. This post is in no way an excuse to not get your butt off the couch and get moving, but rather a bit of guidance on how to know how much is enough for your body in its current state.
Research continues to confirm that too much exercise (overworking your body) can be as harmful to your health as too little exercising (underworking your body). (See these resources: here & here). This is especially obvious when other health factors are out of balance such as over-training and under-eating, or eating foods that don’t nourish the body. Another increasingly common situation is over-exertion while suffering adrenal fatigue. This can be tricky to manage because while light exercise can be helpful in reducing cortisol levels (stress hormones produced by the adrenals), too much exercise will place further stress on an already taxed system exacerbating the adrenal fatigue. So where is the sweet spot? How much is enough? How much is too much? How much is not enough?
Registered Dietitian Laura Schoenfeld of Paleo Rehab wrote an informative post about how to handle exercise when in adrenal recovery. You can read the whole thing here, but to summarize, below are a few points to keep in mind when trying to find balance between exercise and adrenal health:
- Slow, gentle movements are enough. Even walking alone can be the right pace for someone in adrenal recovery.
- More is not better! Shorter workouts, lighter weights, longer recovery is probably best until you have regained some adrenal health.
- If you HAVE to get back to faster paced or higher intensity workouts, don’t dive in where you left off. Start a bit slowly, with a lighter load, and gradually increase toward your goal.
- Always check in with your body during and after a workout. Feeling exhausted? Time to rest and recover! Take a day (or more!) off between workouts and make sure to extend recovery times between sets during your workouts.
- Doing Tabata or a similar high-intensity interval training can give you the benefit of a longer workout in just minutes. Try it out to get max gain in minimal time, however, adjust the intensity level to a more moderate intensity so as to not over-tax yourself.
- Take time off from workouts. Sleep in. Find relaxing activities that allow for slight to moderate levels of movement or activity rather than going to the gym. Getting steps in during the day may be enough for now!