The Best Ways to Work Out When You’re Tired
Staying healthy is simple: Sleep restfully for eight hours per night, work out for 30-60 minutes at least five days per week, and eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Sure, maybe in a perfect world. Instead, we regularly deal with the exhausting side effects of stressful days at work, packed social calendars, kids, and more — all of which impact our ability to hit the recommended dosage of sleep and exercise. Quite simply, we’re tired!
The irony is that exercise can actually improve energy levels and make us feel better overall. So, we certainly want to keep up with our workouts. Fighting through that foggy feeling can be tough, though. We asked Aaptiv trainers to share their best strategies for working out when you’re tired. Keep reading to find out how they push through when they’re just not feeling it.
1. Figure out why you’re tired. First things first: You need to pinpoint what’s tiring you out, says Aaptiv Trainer Jaime McFaden. “Be honest with yourself — are you getting too little sleep or are you just feeling unmotivated to exercise?” McFaden says. From sleep troubles to stress to busy schedules, there are plenty of causes for the drained feeling. But it’s important to pinpoint why you’re tired. If you’re skimping on sleep because of too many late nights out, it’s probably time to reevaluate. If you’re working a standard nine-to-five with a full workload, some sleepy days come with the territory. And you may be able to push through that end of the day haze. “Typically, I find more people using the excuse of being tired to justify skipping exercise,” McFaden says. “You need to love your body enough to take care of it, so make the effort even if it’s small.”
2. Compromise with yourself. If you’re really don’t feel like hitting the gym, try making a deal with yourself. “Workout for 15 minutes and then rest for 15 minutes,” McFaden says. She recommends trying simple moves that will get your heart rate up and your muscles working. Do exercises such as planks, squats, jumping jacks, lunges, and jogging in place for one minute each. “Small increments of exercise can feel more attainable when you’re not in the mood,” she says. “If nothing else, a few minutes is better than nothing.”
3. Try the indoor cycling bike. Congrats! You’ve made it to the gym. Now, it’s all about picking the perfect machine to get you moving when your legs feel like lead. For Aaptiv Trainer Ben Green, that means the indoor cycling bike. “The treadmill takes me a bit longer to warm up on when I’m tired,” he says. “The bike is an easy way to get my heart rate up and zone out.” He recommends pushing through some intervals to get moving and then up the resistance and climb a few hills when you’re feeling more awake.
4. Go for a walk. If a fast-paced HIIT or challenging strength training workout just isn’t going to happen, keep it simple and take a walk. “Just getting moving is sometimes all the motivation you need,” says McFaden. “Get yourself outdoors and walk — it may change your exhaustion to motivation.”
5. Call a friend. By now we know that a workout buddy is the not-so-secret key to accountability. If you’re feeling sluggish, recruit a friend to push you. “A workout partner can be especially helpful in the moments you’re really dragging and about to skip your workout,” says McFaden. Even if your partner doesn’t get you to sprint it out, he or she may just get you to the gym and, sometimes that’s all it takes to fit in a quality workout. If nothing else, you can commiserate together over sets of sit-ups.
6. Let a trainer be your guide. If you’re feeling energized enough to at least get to the gym or the start of your running route, take the pressure off motivating yourself by enlisting the help of a professional. “Aaptiv has been a game changer for me on days when I’m just not feeling it,” says Aaptiv Trainer Kelly Chase. “As soon as I have the trainer in my ear guiding me through each step, I’m immediately motivated to keep going.”
Chase admits that she’s more likely to pick a shorter workout when she’s feeling tired, but once she starts she typically keeps pushing. “Usually once I’ve done one workout, it’ll prompt me to choose another short one,” she says. “By the time I’m done, 30-45 minutes have gone by and I leave feeling proud and one step closer to living a healthier lifestyle.”
(Photo via Getty)