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Getting Fit to Get Happy: Have Fun Moving

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January 17, 2013 | Published by


people jogging on bridge

Most people with adrenal fatigue don’t even want to think about lifting a dumbbell or climbing a mountain, much less actually do either of these activities. Others with compromised adrenal function miss the added energy and positive feelings their spinning or Zumba classes used to bring, but they no longer have the energy to attend. Finally, there are those die-hards who believe in the antiquated “no pain, no gain” adage and push themselves to complete their pre-adrenal fatigue workout only to be completely exhausted for the next three days—or weeks.

As a physician and former personal fitness trainer, I have heard many arguments against exercising: My muscles are sore even without exercising; I have to take naps just to make it through the day. There’s no way I have the energy to workoutI’m not motivated; I don’t have time.

If you’ve gotten the okay from your physician to work out, the arguments for exercising are significantly stronger than the arguments against it—especially if you are under stress or dealing with some form of adrenal dysfunction. A few reasons:

  • Exercise increases circulation. This improves nutrient exchange, cellular function and metabolism, which enhance energy production and a sense of well-being.
  • People with compromised adrenal function have less efficient liver detoxification. This can result in feelings of fatigue, headaches, and discomfort. Exercise stimulates the liver, enabling more efficient detoxification and enhancing health and energy.
  • Exercise helps to normalize hormone levels including insulin, cortisol, and thyroid. These hormones have far-reaching effects on the body, including regulating the breakdown of fuel for energy and impacting the brain’s ability to function properly.
  • Exercise has been shown to reduce the fight or flight response to mental stress1 so exercise may help you remain calm and unruffled while facing challenges or problems.
  • Exercise can be comparable to antidepressant medications in its ability to positively impact depression. 2,3

Even knowing these benefits, people are often anxious or reluctant to begin a workout program. When I work with patients who don’t want to exercise and have stress related disorders (cortisol too high or too low, or excessive amounts of stress), I challenge them to achieve one simple goal: have fun moving every day.

Yes, I know about sets and reps. Yes I’m aware that the guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services4 recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week (30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, five days a week) plus strength training two or more days a week. However, doing any movement at all is far better than doing nothing.  I believe in meeting people where they are while helping them get where they want to be.

Begin with a commitment to yourself to have fun moving every day for a period of time that is reasonable for you in your current state of health and with your current schedule. For some, that may mean a half an hour of aerobic dance. For others, it may be five minutes of slow yoga poses. Make your goal easy enough to reasonably achieve so that you can build a pattern of success. At this stage, duration and intensity aren’t nearly as important as having fun and creating a habit.

Explore different activities until you discover several that you enjoy: walking with your dog, dancing in your living room, pedaling a stationary bike while reading a new book, kickboxing to a video, climbing a rock wall, or taking a ballroom dance class. It’s important that the form of movement you choose is non-competitive and enjoyable in order for your stress response system to receive the most benefit. Once you’ve discovered movement activities you enjoy, created time in your day to do them, and begun to experience increased energy, satisfaction, and well-being from doing so, it is much easier to gradually work out harder and longer.

We have more about cardiovascular exercise here, and strength training here. Have fun moving!

References:

  1. Blumenthal JA, et al. Aerobic exercise reduces levels of cardiovascular and sympathoadrenal responses to mental stress in subjects without prior evidence of myocardial ischemia. Am J Cardiol.1990 Jan 1;65(1):93-8.
  2. Tordeurs D, et al. [Effectiveness of physical exercise in psychiatry: a therapeutic approach?]. Encephale. 2011 Oct;37(5):345-52. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2011.02.003. Epub 2011 May 4.
  3. Dinas PC, et al. Effects of exercise and physical activity on depression. Ir J Med Sci. 2011 Jun;180(2):319-25. doi: 10.1007/s11845-010-0633-9. Epub 2010 Nov 14.
  4. (http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/)

Dr. Lise NaugleAbout the Author: Dr. Lise Naugle (ND) is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice focusing on stress and adrenal health, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.



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3 Comments

  • Im so glad I read this about adrenal fatigue ! I am super sports and outdoor activity minded…. I believe in all the positive speech and behaviour … and know that God is my source of life ! Try to eat the right foods etc.. I am a “green” person, and fully support the HSI,, Human Society International – Yet ! there was this subtle fatigue dogging me ,, from time to time when I should not have had it.
    I had so much to blame for it. But now,, this explains why ! I have lived a 200% stressed out life for most of my life.. a victim of apartheid , I had white parents but I was as dark as an Asian …wasnot allowed into white schools…and several divorces by my parents. I raised my 3 children myself ,,, no modern chat shows and all these support groups around.. I had my parents in law 100 kms away who were loving and kind,, but I had to pilot the boat myself ! assess which way the winds of life were “blowing” , and be almost taken out by hidden and treacherous currents lurking beneath the waters of life we were travelling on and massive waves that threatened to destroy us… So I became perpetually tired… and didnt really function as I could have ! I kept blaming this on my emotional challenges and undesirable way of life. But now I have information available that I never had before …. and I know now basically what the matter was ! Adrenal fatigue,,, that I could not shake off …,, and Im going to send your informatoin to my three children.. all married.. The eldest is the one who was hit the worst and studied 24/7 all his school and varsity life and 2 years army service… he became highly competititve in order to ” beat the cycle” and he never had a break ..just got used to being tired as well .. So Thank you Doctors Naugle and Wilson ! I will take your information to heart and follow your articles and advice for a tired-free life…!

  • Annabel says:

    Hi there,
    I have a question about sleep and the adrenal fatigue quartet. I started taking the adrenal fatigue quartet 2 weeks ago. I was advised by the New Zealand distributor to start slowly, beginning with only one table per day for the first two weeks. They said that the Bs were really powerful and that I could initially feel a little bit ‘wired’ and unable to sleep if I took more than one tablet per day. This was general advice from them and they did emphasise that everybody is different however. What I found was that for the first few days, I did feel quite alert at night and had some difficulty falling asleep. This was fine though as I eventually did get a good night’s sleep. I’ve just increased my dose to the mild adrenal fatigue dosage. What I’ve found for the last couple of nights is that I’ve been falling asleep just fine, but then consistently waking up between 3-4am in the morning and unable to get back to sleep. My mind feels really alert when I wake up, like I’m ready to read a newspaper or something! I’m just wondering if there is anything I can do to help me to stay asleep?? Many thanks.

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