Anyone with adrenal fatigue knows that managing cortisol levels is top of the chart when it comes to getting a handle on your symptoms.
There are two sure fire ways to reduce stress:
The two often go hand in hand; get the right amount of exercise and you’ll naturally feel more tired when it’s time to hit the sack. But what if you’re exercising and getting into a rhythm with your sleep routine, but your symptoms still aren’t improving?
It may be you need to take a closer look at your current exercise routine.
When less is more: Overtraining and cortisol
Because of fluctuating cortisol levels throughout the day, it’s not uncommon for people with adrenal fatigue to experience a burst of energy during the evening when most of us are winding down for the day. It can be tempting to use this time to catch an extra spin class or squeeze in one more session at the gym, but there’s evidence to suggest that this may actually be doing you more harm than good.
Of course, there’s no disputing the benefits of physical activity. On the other hand, it’s becoming more and more apparent that although gentle exercise can be beneficial for adrenal health, overtraining can actually have the opposite effect.
This is because high intensity workouts cause the body to produce a surge of cortisol, in exactly the same way as it does when you’re under stress. Cortisol is one of a group of hormones called glucocorticoids, which when released, causes a rise in the amount of glucose in the blood. The truth is that high intensity workouts actually mimic the stress response, causing a chain of biochemical responses that can really wreak havoc with your health.
For example; did you know that overtraining affects blood levels of neurotransmitters such as 5-HTP (a precursor of serotonin), which if left unchecked can lead to feelings of depression and chronic fatigue?
Is your routine making your adrenal exhaustion worse?
If your regular routine is to hit the weights each evening, it could be that your “healthy workout” is actually making your adrenal fatigue worse.
Studies have shown that there are certain types of heavy resistance exercises which cause an acute cortisol response. If you’re doing these types of exercises on a regular basis, chances are you’re exposing yourself to increased levels of stress.
Have you ever had difficulty getting to sleep after an evening training session?
Doing strenuous exercise at a time when your body is preparing to wind down for the day, means disrupting the natural flow of your cortisol cycle which can lead to a huge range of health problems such as disturbed sleep, increased fatigue, and even weight gain and low mood.
If you’re doing everything you can to knock adrenal fatigue out of the park, and yet your symptoms don’t seem to be improving, taking a closer look at how you’re exercising may be the key to getting to grips with your adrenal health.
Which exercise is best for adrenal fatigue?
If you think your routine is in need of a make-over, it may be worth giving the gym a miss for a week or two. This will allow you to monitor your symptoms to see if there’s any improvement, and at the same time, give your body a rest from constant stimulation. If you simply can’t bear the thought of not exercising, try changing the time that you train so you’re not encouraging cortisol spikes late in the day. Keep a record of how you’re feeling so you can keep a check on any improvements in your sleep pattern or fatigue levels during the day.
As always with adrenal fatigue, finding out what’s right for you is more important than jumping on the bandwagon with what everyone else is doing. The exercise aspect of your management plan should be no different. Switch up your routine and try new things! You may find that gentle exercise such as yoga, walking and being outdoors is more beneficial than a two hour session of kettle bells. It takes time to work out what’s best for you, so don’t be afraid to make those changes and monitor the results.
There’s no doubt that exercise should be a fundamental cornerstone of any adrenal fatigue program. However, training too hard, to the point where your body is under stress, is almost always counterproductive to achieving your ultimate health goals. If you’re doing all that you can to improve your adrenal health but still aren’t seeing the benefits, a change to your exercise routine may be the key.
Mariana F. says
Thank you. This is exactly how I got myself in trouble. I’ve been regular gym fanatic since spring. At first I lost some weight and generally looked well trimmed and lean. Halfway through my gym routine I was under lots of stress ( facing my fear of driving, and getting my driver licence – needless to say that was a life changing experience for me). All of a sudden something went wrong with me, and I started to pile on pound after pound. By the end of summer I gained 15 pounds, had symptoms similar to early menopause ( I’m 40 years old), was constantly tired, become very antisocial and absolutely demotivated to handle easy tasks of everyday life. The only thing keeping me sane was to work out even harder at the gym with the future promise of getting myself in shape again. Well, that did not happen, and I gained few more pound, mainly in my mid section. Since then I’ve found out that I suffer from adrenal fatigue as well as hormonal disbalance (probably due to my age). Anyway, I wanted to thank you for this very informative article. It did help me to realise what I was doing wrong.
Fawne Hansen says
I’m glad it helped 🙂
Hi Fawne , Great job on the adrenal stress (hpa axis) tips and awareness.
Can you recommend anyone in Salt lake City Utah?!
Fawne Hansen says
Hi Jonas, I’m sorry I can’t. Look for an integrative/functional doctor or a naturopath who is experienced in ordering and interpreting hormone tests.