At what point am I legitimately too tired to workout?
It's no secret that one of the biggest go-to's of the fitness industry is to suggest that the majority of people who don't workout regularly are just making excuses. It's far more complicated than what the industry likes to admit, but we get it because we live it! It's time to lose the shame/guilt cycle and focus on real solutions to help with the biggest obstacle standing in the way of your active lifestyle: being too tired!
We've been discussing in our Flex360 Fitness Facebook Group about the ways that our workouts are impeded during the holiday season (and in life in general), and this very topic came up. One of our awesome instructors, Miranda, shared some great insight on evaluating fatigue:
"To me, there are two types of energy: Mental and Physical. Both play an integral part in one's everyday life. Both have their own separate challenges. For me, mental tiredness is easier to overcome than physical. My work/job is very mentally tiring and not physically tiring, but it still drains my energy. However, I noticed that as soon as I start a workout when I am mentally tired, that energy is so easy to pick back up with exercise. Not so much with physical tiredness. Physical tiredness is completely different than mental tiredness. If I am physically exhausted I know my body needs a break and I will skip a day of "working out". No need to overuse the body. Gauging physical tiredness is very individual (same with mental). However, if I am hurting from sore muscles or overuse of a joint such as a knee or ankle I will take a break for 1 or 2 days. 48 hours is the perfect amount of time for recovery. So even if I am a little sore on the 3rd day, I know I am ready to jump back in."
Her views on mental tiredness align are spot on--exercising actually has a dissociative effect on a person, meaning they can mentally escape and shut out everything else while they're breaking a sweat--get out of the mind and into the body! Sometimes being mentally tired is the best time to workout and give the mind a break (though sometimes, it's in this time you get the breakthrough you've been trying to find).
Physical tiredness, on the other hand, can actually increase your risk of injury during workouts. We lose proper form and stop properly executing movements, so even if you avoid injury, you still don't achieve the benefits you were seeking from that workout. Rest and recovery is just as important as the exercise itself, and the body WILL protest in some unpleasant ways when pushed too far. Always listen to your body.
Mental tiredness and physical tiredness can overlap. Other factors to consider are:
Have you been getting enough sleep? If you've been restless and not getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night, this is definitely an important area to focus on. Exercise definitely helps you get more normal sleep patterns, but there's also a point where if you're too deprived of rest that you need to first...REST!!
When is the last time you engaged in some form of self care? While exercise IS a form of self care, it may not be THE form of self care you need in that particular moment if you're feeling exhausted.
How packed is your schedule? Have you been going non-stop? There are many active things we do that we don't label as really active, but they can wear the body down. Running errands, cleaning, helping friends and neighbors, cooking--you name--it adds up in a day!
How has your nutrition been? If you've been eating less than stellar, this can make you feel sluggish. The good news is this type of fatigue can be conquered after drinking plenty of water and a really good sweat session!
Are you hydrating enough? Make sure you're getting enough water throughout the day so that you can be ready to exercise when the time comes.
Movement is as crucial to rest is to a healthy lifestyle, and in order to enjoy the benefits it has to be consistent and attainable. This means getting in a reasonable number of exercise sessions in each week (even if it's 3-4 and squeezing in a quick walk for those), and doing things that your body can handle. Everyone has a starting point, and it takes time to build. We encourage you to look at the obstacles standing in your way, lose the shame and guilt, and face each one objectively to determine how to find a good compromise to get past it. Working on feeling lest tired is an important part of the journey. Little steps add up to big results over time!