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Too tired to exercise?

Written by Sarah on

One of the main reasons people give for not exercising (after being time poor) is not having enough energy. How can you overcome this?

We all have days where our energy levels feel low. It might be that time in your menstrual cycle, not getting enough sleep, emotional stress making you feel physically exhausted or there might be no obvious cause.

Getting the motivation to do some exercise when you feel like this can seem an impossible task. Sometimes that’s ok, we all need to take rest days and to listen to our bodies. But if low energy is a regular occurrence in your life it can start to really derail your exercise regime and mean you are missing out from all of the fantastic benefits of regular training. If this is something that sounds familiar see if any of these tips can help motivate you to move.

The first question to ask yourself is ‘Am I talking myself into feeling tired?’ I know that mind over matter can feel like a cliché but our minds are incredibly receptive to the messages we send them. When we repeatedly tell ourselves that we're tired or fatigued, our subconscious mind interprets these statements as instructions to feel tired, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just as a placebo can produce real physiological effects when someone believes it's a powerful medication, our beliefs about fatigue can influence our actual energy levels. Think energising thoughts and you might notice you start to feel less tired. Or don’t think about your energy levels at all and instead focus on the exercise you are doing.

Thinking all the positive thoughts but still feeling fatigued? Crank up the tunes. Music has a profound impact on mood and emotional states. Listening to uplifting or motivational songs can evoke positive emotions and has been shown to increase motivation and reduce perceived exertion during exercise. Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off has got me through some of my most challenging workouts on low energy days! Whatever your jam, whether it’s Meatloaf or acid house, crank up the volume and let the tunes energise you.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" goes the Chinese proverb. Well, the same goes for walking 1 mile, swimming 20 lengths or completing a weights session. Start with your first step, stroke, rep and go from there. Agree with yourself to do 1 set or 10 minutes, something that feels manageable enough to complete and then see how you feel. 9 times out of 10 you’ll feel more energised once you’ve started exercising and want to continue. Sometimes the days I’ve least felt like training have been the ones I’ve ended up getting personal bests. You never know what you might achieve until you take that first step.

Do you know what gives you energy? Oxygen! Where is there more of that? Outside! Fresh air contains higher levels of oxygen compared to indoor environments (obviously dependent on where you live, maybe not if you are on a busy bus route...), which can enhance oxygen intake and circulation in the body. Increased oxygenation leads to improved energy production at the cellular level, helping combat feelings of fatigue and lethargy. Spending time outdoors also (sometimes in the UK!) exposes us to natural sunlight, which plays a crucial role in regulating our circadian rhythms and promoting wakefulness. Sunlight exposure triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood elevation and increased energy levels.

Utilise the power of yoga. If you need something to get you going before you can leave the house or lift that first weight you could try doing some sun salutations. These are a series of yoga poses that are traditionally performed in the morning to greet the rising sun and awaken the body and mind. Not only will they increase your energy levels they’ll also improve your flexibility and strength. What have you got to lose?!

Wake up your senses. Do you feel more or less tired after a shower? If the answer is more you need to invest in a new shower. Usually we want to shower after a workout so to get the same impact pre-workout try washing your face with an invigorating smelling soap (citrus and mint are great for this) or brush your teeth with a minty toothpaste. Use your taste and smell to energise you and wake you up.

Get social and book in workouts with a friend. Instead of viewing workouts as a chore, you can look forward to spending quality time with your friend while engaging in physical activity together. Sharing laughter, conversation, and experiences will energise you (as long as you pick the right friend – this is important!). If you don’t have any friends who will work out with you, listen to a podcast or audiobook which engages you and makes you laugh.

Make sure you are fuelling yourself effectively. If you want to have energy you need to give your body the right fuel to create it. Make sure you are having a high carbohydrate and protein snack a couple of hours before your training so that your body has the fuel it needs to keep your internal engine working effectively.

Ever heard that term you’ve got to speculate to accumulate? It’s the same with energy. Two of the biggest benefits of exercise are that it will energise you and it will also help you sleep better so you will feel more rested and therefore have more energy. So it is definitely worth finding ways to overcome these energy slumps and to get exercising!

What do you do to motivate yourself to move when energy levels are low? Get in touch to let me know or if you’d like to discuss how I could support you with finding a regular exercise routine which works for you.

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