When you're feeling tired, the last thing you likely want to do is get up off the couch and hit the gym. However, exercise can actually improve your energy levels, so to help yourself feel better and maintain your healthy habits, it's essential to know the best workouts to do when you're tired. On days your lethargic, you're not going to want to get your butt kicked in a Crossfit class, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get moving.
"As long as you are not sick or have chest congestion, you are good to workout when you are tired," says Lisa Reed, MS, CSCS, USAW over email. "Of course, sleep is vital to performance, but with a healthy pre-workout snack, you will be fueled and fired up and happy you overcame your excuses not to workout."
Of course it's always best to listen to your body, so if you're too exhausted, you're better off resting or doing a very minimal workout. However, if you think you've still got a few pushups in you, you might want to try motivating yourself to get in even just a little bit of exercise.
If you still want to fit in exercise even if you're feeling under the weather, consider one of these nine workouts to do when you're tired.
1. Weights In Front Of The TV
You don't even have to leave the house for this exercise. "If you’re feeling lazy in front of the TV, grab some weights and do some toning," says fitness expert Sara Haley over email. "You can do these exercises as you watch, and the endorphins you release may even encourage you to turn the TV off and do more."
One of the best part of pilates is that you're lying on your back — perfect for a day when your energy levels are low. "Pilates is my go-to exercise when I'm tired," says fitness and lifestyle expert Christine Bullock over email. "It increases controlled breathing to improve oxygenation to the entire body. It stretches key areas that can increase energy like the chest for better breathing, the front of neck for a boost of thyroid production, and hips where we hold stress."
3. Dynamic Stretching
"A dynamic stretch routine is a comforting one to do in the evening when you’re feeling tired," says Haley. "You literally don’t even have to leave your bed." It might seem like it's low impact, but stretching still works out your muscles.
"If you’re feeling tired, jumping in the pool will help wake you up," says Haley. Try swimming some laps or doing some water aerobics — if weather permits, of course. Swimming is a great cardiovascular exercise that can improve strength, flexibility, and endurance, according to Bucknell University, but it can also be relaxing as well.
Looking to relax while getting fit? Yoga is your best bet. "The slow movement and breathing will help you get moving without wiping you out completely," says Jessica Thiefels, owner and founder HonestBodyFitness over email. "If you're tired from a stressful day of meetings, yoga will help restore your body."
6. Incline Walking
"Intense cardio will wipe you out completely, but walking on an incline is gentler on your body, while also giving you a workout," says Thiefels. "A light jog is fine too, especially outside. The fresh air will wake you up and make you feel refreshed."
7. Group Class
"Sometimes the thought of going to the gym alone is exhausting," says certified trainer Anna Victoria over email. "If you have trouble staying motivated and getting to the gym, signing up for a group class can help lessen the exhaustion emotionally since someone will be there walking you through what to do move-by-move."
8. Playing Sports
"One great way to get exercise in is playing a sport you enjoy," says Victoria. "If you're tired, you'll still be doing something you love, and it will seem less like a chore or more like a game, so you'll be less likely to skip out on it due to a lack of energy."
9. HIIT Workout
HIIT workouts, also known as high-intensity interval training, involves short periods of intense activity followed by periods of lower intensity or rest. "Doing a HIIT workout will require the majority of your energy, but for a short period of time," says Victoria. "This is the best way to get the most out of your time in the gym so you don't need to spend hours and then get home exhausted with little time to recover." This means you can do a workout in just 10 minutes that is equivalent to one 30 minutes or longer.
If you're on the fence about a workout, it's best to look at why you're tired. "If you're just not feeling motivated and don't have much energy, the workouts above would be perfect for you," says Victoria. "But if it's because you're not sleeping enough, like less than 6 hours a night or you're not eating enough, then it's best to address that factor before you add workouts into the mix."
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