Getting Fit to Get Happy: Have Fun Moving
January 17, 2013 | Published by Dr. Lise Naugle
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 workout; I’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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
About 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.
Categorised in: Exercise