One of the areas that I see the most guilt around with moms in my practice is exercise. Many of my patients know that they “should” be exercising, but they either do not have the energy to even think about starting an exercise program, or they have started exercising and it is making them feel worse. The MOST important thing I want to emphasize regarding moms and exercise it LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. No really listen. Pushing through and trying to do very intense exercise is not going to do you any favors. One of the questions that I ask all of my new patients is “How is your energy after exercising”. This question provides me with a tonne of valuable information. If you are exercising at the right intensity for you, you should feel a tired, but have increased energy about a half hour to an hour after you finish your workout. If you are left feeling exhausted, and feel tired for a day or two after, you are doing too much and need to listen to your body.
Our bodies are very intelligent. If you are someone who is under stress and suffering from some degree of adrenal fatigue your body views intense exercise as another form of stress. Are you not sure if you could have adrenal fatigue? I talk all about adrenal fatigue, including the signs and symptoms in this blog post.
With my patients I frequently see women in their 30’s and 40’s doing the same exercise routine they used to do in their late teens and 20’s and they are surprised that they are not getting the same results. No, this is not just a function of “getting older” it is more a function of them being under a lot more stress now than they were back then. A lot of the exercises that used to work for women in their teens and 20’s were medium intensity long cardio sessions. This is not what you want to be doing now. Here is a case of more not being better.
Best Forms of Exercise For Tired Stressed Out Moms
- Walking- For some this may sound “too easy or simple”, but it honestly is the best form of exercise for someone who is suffering from adrenal fatigue. Walking is unique in that it helps to normalize cortisol, meaning if your cortisol is high it can help to lower it and if it is low it can help to raise it. Walking outside has an extra bonus effect on cortisol, leaving you feeling more relaxed, and has been shown to help with sleep. I recommend walking for 20-30 minutes 3-5 times per week. Your walking pace should be one that leaves you feeling better after. If you are feeling worse, slow down.
- Strength Training- is very beneficial as long as you are not doing HIIT training. HIIT= High Intensity Interval Training think hour long Bootcamp and CrossFit classes. Not to say you can never do these classes again, but it is best to avoid them while suffering from adrenal fatigue. You can greatly benefit from 1-2 strength training sessions/week which use body weight or weight lifting as long as you allow for rest and recovery in between sessions.
- Yoga- I am not talking about power hot yoga here. Gentle forms of yoga, such as hatha, work well with the adrenals. Many women find that doing a yin yoga class the day after strength training helps them to recover much faster. Yin Yoga has many benefits for the adrenals.
Worst Types of Exercise For Tired Stressed Out Moms
These are forms of exercise that you can return to once your adrenals are back on track
- High Intensity Interval Training- See why in the strength training section above.
- Running- Running is a great form of exercise and many women like that they can do it anytime anywhere with minimal equipment. For now it is not the best, as running for long periods of time (greater than 5 minutes) is seen as a source of stress by the body. Stick to walking.
- Intense Hot Yoga- Hot yoga is an exercise that I like for people who are not under a lot of stress. It is very intense and can overwhelm the adrenals. Hold off until you are feeling better. Better yet, swap that Hot Power Yoga for a Warm Yin Yoga class.
With adrenal issues the time of day that you work out is also very important. It is ideal to do your workout between 7-9 am as that is the time of day when cortisol is naturally increasing. Doing your exercise at this time can help to reset your body’s natural cortisol rhythms.
Exercising at night is not advised, as it raises cortisol at the time of day you want it to be lowering, and can make it more difficult to fall asleep. If you can exercise right before bed and have no problem falling asleep that is a big indication that your adrenal glands need some TLC! I have discussed many times how crucial sleep is for your adrenal glands and if forced to choose, you do not want to sacrifice sleep for exercise.
The last thing I want to say is to make sure you listen to your body. This can be especially hard for Type A people, but not pushing yourself too hard, and doing an exercise program that helps your adrenals recover, will help to make sure you are able to push yourself with intense exercise and feel great in the future!
Do you feel like you can’t exercise as intensely or as much as you used to before kids?
Post in the comments below
Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is currently accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.