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How to Enjoy Aerobic Exercise with Adrenal Fatigue

Exercise can deplete the energy in a muscle quickly, so pay attention to your body. With adrenal fatigue, muscle cells’ mitochondria may not function optimally, and with some forms of exercise, that may precipitate an energy crisis.

Aerobic exercises don't cause an acute energy crisis; however, they tend to cause a cellular energy deficit over time. In other words, exercise can cause muscle pain and extreme muscle fatigue. You literally may not have enough energy to complete the workout.

Enjoying an aerobic workout begins by not inviting pain or fatigue. You can have a lot of fun doing aerobic exercises without much planning or effort. You usually don't need a lot of equipment, but having the proper equipment reduces the risk of injury.

Walk around the block

Nothing's more enjoyable than a brisk walk on a late summer evening or a fall afternoon. Walking is a good initial form of exercise if you have adrenal fatigue because it's very well tolerated compared to other forms of aerobic exercise. It doesn't cause quite as much muscle fatigue as biking or swimming, for example.

Here are some tips concerning walking:

  • Start with a short walk at a normal pace. Take your first walk at a normal pace and aim for a duration of about 5 to 10 minutes. Then sit down and rest. If you’re thinking “I feel fine. I know I can do more,” do more a couple of days from now. You have time, so don't push it. With adrenal fatigue, details like that matter.

  • Keep a diary of how you feel after your walk so you can see what works and what doesn't work for you. See how you feel the day after your first walk. If your first day is too intense, you can crash and burn in the setting of adrenal fatigue.

  • Build gradually. Instead of walking every day, start out by walking every two to three days. Begin increasing the duration of your walks before you start increasing your pace. In the first few weeks, maintain a normal walking pace and add 30 to 60 seconds to each subsequent walking session.

    After you're comfortable walking about 30 minutes without stopping or needing to sit down, then begin to gradually increase your walking pace.

  • Initially, stay away from hills. More hills means increased muscle soreness the next day.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes and comfortable footwear. Sometimes people walk around in the park in their work clothes, and they don't look comfortable at all.

If you're walking on a treadmill, the same principles apply. Initially, set the machine to a normal walking pace, avoid the hill and interval programs, and wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Consider buying sneakers specifically designed for walking.

Aquatherapy and swimming

Aquatherapy amounts to doing exercises in a pool. Water is great because there's no wear and tear on the joints in the water. In fact, many rehabilitation professionals commonly prescribe aquatherapy to help people recover from a bodily injury or trauma.

Examples of exercises that you can do in the water include walking and running. The water provides resistance, and water-based exercises can help increase muscle strength and flexibility. One approach is doing aquatherapy first and adding swimming later.

Unless you're going to stay in the shallow end of the pool, wear a life preserver, life vest, or flotation belt for the first few exercise sessions, or exercise with someone else nearby who is available in an emergency. Some people with extreme adrenal fatigue become so tired midway through a session that they're unable to continue. You don't want to drown.

Many health clubs, including the YMCA, offer water aerobics classes, which are a combination of endurance and strengthening exercises in a pool. They offer a great opportunity to meet people and socialize as well as exercise!

Although swimming laps is an excellent form of exercise, it can be a bit strenuous initially for someone with adrenal fatigue because it works every muscle group in your upper and lower body. Therefore, make sure you know what your baseline endurance is before you decide to swim laps.

One option is to use a kickboard and kick your legs at a low intensity; with a kickboard, you can rest when you need to.

Row with light resistance

An oft-forgotten form of aerobic exercise is rowing. One option for this exercise is rowing a boat, which can be peaceful and serene, especially if you do it in the early morning. Another popular option is using a rowing machine or the rowing machine feature of a home gymnasium.

Rowing is great for strengthening your core muscles, including your abdomen and mid to lower back muscles. It also strengthens your leg muscles to some degree, including the quadriceps and hamstrings.

If you're just starting out, start by doing sets of 15 to 20 repetitions at a time. Begin with low weight (about 20 pounds of resistance) and gauge how you feel. Start with one set, and after a couple of weeks, increase to doing two sets. Don't row too fast; this isn't the galley battle scene in Ben Hur!

Ride a bike

Bicycling is a form of exercise with many variations. Some people feel that it's not a good form of aerobic exercise because you're sitting — you're mainly using your legs, not your upper body.

Biking is a great workout for folks with adrenal fatigue because you can control your pace, your time, and your level of intensity.

Here are some notes on using a stationary bike:

  • Bikes that have bigger seats are comfortable to sit on for longer periods of time.

  • You can read while using the stationary bike, because you don't have to worry about crashing into something or someone.

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