Life is exhausting. If anyone says that it isn’t, they’re lying to themselves. I could get into the whole reason behind some of that exhaustion, including the plethora of Diabetes-related issues that can cause lack of sleep or fatigue, even when you are well-rested. But that ins’t really the purpose behind today’s post. I recently wrote a post about the issues surrounding working out when you’re hungry. Therefore, it stands to reason that my next step would include addressing the issue surrounding working out when you’re tired. Buckle up!
Maintaining a fitness routine is difficult at the best of times. Between work, family and home responsibilities and health concerns, being able to say you work out at specific times on fixed days is spotty, at best. So, hat’s off to the folks who manage to be part of fitness clubs with scheduled classes or who go that extra step and manage to maintain consistent fitness at home, because I personally know it ain’t easy. It becomes all the more difficult when you’re tired.
Being tired is one of those things where one needs to find a balance, or perhaps compromise with oneself. On the one side, being tired will often elicit the response that one should take the opportunity to rest. On the other side, sometimes you just gotta push through your fatigue or you’ll never overcome it or get anything done. Assuming you can tell or “feel” the difference, here are some potential effects of working out when tired:
1. You’ll Resent Your Fitness: It’s hard to concentrate and be motivated when you’re tired. If you find yourself “pushing through,” and I’m not saying you shouldn’t, you could find that exercising when tired will do little more than tire you further and possibly make you resent exercising. Much like the bedroom should only be associated with sleep, associations help to form our opinions on certain things;
2. You’ll Make Mistakes: Being tired or exhausted could lead to making mistakes, being inadvertently clumsy or working out improper. Ever drop a dumbbell on your foot? That shit hurts, and can potentially break bones., which leads me into my next point:
3. You Could Injure Yourself: Fatigue can be distracting, and if you’re tired to the point where you’re making mistakes, you may potentially harm yourself as well. Besides dropping random weights on yourself, fatigue may distract you in karate class enough to cause injury. These are just some examples, of course;
4. You Won’t Achieve Your Fitness Goals: This is a big one for me and pisses me off to no end. There’s nothing I hate worse than being out on the bike for a solid 20k, thinking I should push through the fatigue, only to completely drag ass and have it take twice as long to complete my distance AND I’m just further exhausted afterwards; and
5. You May Require Longer To Recover: If you push yourself too hard when you’re tired, it may take longer for you to recover and feel better. This applies both to feeling rested and to recover from any fitness-related healing you may need, including muscle and tissue repair.
So, what can you do to prevent some of this? Obviously, I’m a big fan of naps. If you’re tired and you know that you have a workout coming up, grabbing a quick snooze on the couch can be helpful. One need only be cautious about sleeping for too long, which can have the effect of leaving you groggy and slow-moving, which isn’t the best when you’re about to get into some physical exertion. Keep your naps short, about twenty minutes or so. Just enough to take the edge off.
If your fatigue is light and perhaps just the result of the typical daily grind, this might be where you want o push through. Fresh air and movement will often be an effective means of wiping out fatigue and getting your day back on track. I’ve lost count of how many times I sat on the bike or went to karate class, feeling as though I should be hitting the bed instead, only to be re-energized and rejuvenated once I got through it.
Ultimately, there will be times where you may simply need to take a step back and take a break. Naps and pushing through notwithstanding, there will be times when the best alternative will be to simply acknowledge that you need to take a day and just rest. The key is knowing one’s body enough to recognize whether it’s a “take a nap” scenario or a “push through” scenario. But in there interest of being rested and allowing one’s body to heal, sometimes taking the day and saying “screw it” may what the doctor ordered. ☯️