At the end of a long workday, sometimes the last thing I want to do is hit the gym. And during a busy season in my business, it can feel downright impossible to muster up the energy to walk around the block, much less do an actual workout. So how to exercise when you have no energy?
The key is understanding what your body needs and working with your energy as it ebbs and flows. If you’re feeling drained, exhausted, or just unmotivated, here are five tips for finding the energy to get active.
Mental vs. Physical Energy
Do you ever feel exhausted at the end of the day, even if you’ve been sitting at your desk for the past eight hours? You’re not alone, and you’re not just feeling lazy. Mental fatigue is real, and it can affect all areas of your life, including your motivation to move your body.
You might be low on mental energy if you…
- Feel absolutely drained after a long Zoom meeting or client call.
- Are struggling to come up with creative ideas for your business.
- Can’t focus for long periods of time, like during a movie or while reading a book.
- Feel absolutely exhausted at the end of the day but can’t fall asleep.
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On the other hand, you might also be low on physical energy. This is the kind of exhaustion we usually think of, the kind that makes you want to curl up on the couch for a five-hour nap.
You might be low on physical energy if you…
- Feel tired even after a full night of sleep.
- Stumble over your words, forget things, or have trouble keeping up in conversation.
- Feel sore or achy, even when you’re not sick.
- Find yourself nodding off at your desk or while you’re relaxing after work.
Regular, balanced exercise can actually increase your mental and physical energy, but it’s important to also get the appropriate type of rest to help your mind and body recover. A balance of the two–activity and rest–is the key to maintaining your energy levels.
5 Tips For Exercising When You Have No Energy
Ready to create more balance in your business without sacrificing your personal income? Get started with these four steps.
1. Try low-impact activities.
Listen, you don’t have to give it your all all of the time. (If you did, you’d be even more exhausted than you already are!) There are plenty of low-impact forms of exercise that will actually energize you instead of tiring you out:
Yoga. Restorative or yin yoga is all about taking care of your body through slow, controlled movements. And if you’re feeling stressed, yoga can ease the tension in your back and shoulders.
Walking. Even a walk around the block is better than nothing! A brisk walk has been proven to boost your energy much like caffeine would. Plus, it’s great for your cardiovascular system, joints, and mental health.
Lifting weights. You don’t have to lift heavy to see results. In fact, lifting lighter weights can help build leaner muscles, increase your endurance, and lower your risk of injury.
Dancing. And I don’t just mean Zumba! Turn on your favorite music and dance around the house for an energetic boost that also lowers your cortisol levels.
When in doubt, grab your dog or your best friend and take a lap around the neighborhood. Even a few minutes of light movement is better than no movement at all.
2. Exercise during your energetic peak.
We’re all familiar with the post-lunch slump. Your energy waxes and wanes throughout the day, and everyone experiences energetic peaks and valleys at different times.
If you feel like you don’t have enough energy to exercise regularly, spend a week tracking your energy. Do you feel drained as soon as you wake up but experience a small peak after breakfast? Maybe you get amped up a few hours before bed? Track the trends in your energy, and then try working out when your energy is highest. Even if that high feels pretty low, that time of day will be your best bet for finding the motivation to get up and get moving.
In addition to the 24-hour cycle, women also live on the 28-day menstrual cycle. Different weeks of your cycle are better for high-intensity exercise, and others are better for light stretching or walking. Pay attention to where you are in your menstrual cycle, and use your natural rhythm to adjust your workouts according to your energy levels.
3. Pair exercise with something you really enjoy.
Sometimes, even a walk around the block can feel like climbing Mount Everest. On those days, pair the exercise you really don’t want to do with something you’re looking forward to, like listening to your favorite podcast or calling a friend. Make a rule that you’re not allowed to listen to that certain podcast unless you’re moving your body, and use it like a reward. Rewards work, even if you’re giving them to yourself!
If you want to make exercise part of your subconscious routine, try stacking it with other habits you perform daily. For example, if you take your dog outside to potty first thing every morning, add a three-minute jog to this habit. By pairing the new habit with an existing one, you make it easier for your brain to absorb it into your routine.
4. Find an accountability partner.
It’s easy to slip out of your routine when there’s no one to hold you accountable to it. Find someone you trust–a friend, family member, or personal trainer–to act as your accountability partner. A few ideas:
Pick a certain time each week to call your mom or best friend, and tell them you’re going to use that time to walk.
Plan a weekly hike or gym session with your best friend, and set it as a recurring meeting in your calendar.
Use your Fitbit or Apple Watch to cheer on your friends as they achieve their fitness goals. They’ll likely do the same for you.
An accountability partner is there to provide external motivation when your internal motivation (or energy) isn’t there.
5. Switch up your routine.
If you’re really feeling low on energy, it might be time to switch up your workout routine. Over time, your brain and body will get tired of the same workout. Not only will you get mentally bored of it, but your physical progress will start to plateau if you only work a few muscles in one particular way. Changing up your workouts breathes fresh life into your fitness routine and gets your body working hard again.
So sign up for that rock climbing class. Try an evening workout instead of a morning one. Join a local running club. A little bit of variety might be just the thing to boost your energy and get you excited to work out again.
When to Skip the Workout
Of course, sometimes it’s best not to work out when you have no energy. Your body and mind need rest, and if you’re regularly active, your body needs even more rest to recover from your workouts.
In our hustle-focused world, it’s easy to feel guilty about taking time off. But rest is just as important as exercise. A healthy balance of the two is the key to regulating your energy.