If you’re tired… exercise

A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that levels of fatigue and depression improved after a 30-minute session of moderate intensity exercise. This is because exercise improves your cardiovascular health which means that more blood and oxygen flow around the body, therefore giving you more energy.

Everything seems a little more difficult when you don't get enough sleep. Between the non-stop yawning, heavy eyelids and some serious brain fog, just rolling out of bed can feel like exercise. But what should you do when you do have a legitimate workout scheduled on those days? To go or not to go?

Lack of sleep happens to the best of us. Perhaps you have jet lag, worked a late shift or have a lot on your mind. Maybe your pup just decided to give you an early wake-up call. Regardless of the reason, it's normal to feel tired every now and then.  

What does that mean for your fitness routine, though? It can be a tricky decision, especially when you've got a good thing going. You know exercise will give you energy, but you also need energy to break a sweat. Talk about a catch-22.

The Real Question: Are You Actually Tired?

First thing's first: Check in with yourself to make sure tiredness isn't just masking a lack of motivation.

Take care to truly listen to your body. Does it feel sluggish or heavy? Is it a bit weary—but you know you've felt worse? Pay attention to the reasons in your head. If the same excuses keep popping up, it might be time to have a pep talk with yourself.

Keep in mind that dehydration might also be at play. "Being dehydrated will leave you feeling sluggish and slow," says Chantal Toscano, C.P.T., a certified personal trainer in New York, New York, so it's important to drink water throughout the day. Even mild dehydration causes headaches and muscle cramps. If you're feeling tired, knock back some H2O and see how you feel.

Exercises to Do When You're Feeling Tired

If you're only dealing with grogginess, ditching your fitness routine isn't necessary. Try one of these expert-approved exercises for a light and easy workout.

1. Light Cardio

A gentle cardio session is sweet, simple and will boost your energy. "This can include walks on the treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike, recumbent bike or elliptical," shares Toscano.

"If you're having trouble dragging yourself too far from the couch, try marching in place in front of the TV," recommends Dr. Ramos. Top it off with exercises like jumping jacks, pushups and squats.

2. High-Energy Class   

Another way to get your blood flowing is to attend an energetic exercise class. Toscano's top picks? "Zumba and spinning will wake you right up." Other ideas include aerobics, jazz or hip-hop classes.

3. Yoga

Yoga might be relaxing, but it'll also boost your energy, according to one 2017 study in Frontiers of Psychology. Even your self-esteem and mood will get an upgrade!

The best part? All it takes is two minutes to feel these effects.

4. Stretching

To take things even slower, practice general stretching. Don't focus on specific flows or sequences. Instead, reach for your toes or the sky, or lunge to each side. Do what feels good. 

The great news is that stretching is safe even if you're exhausted. It might even ease aches and pains that come with sleep deprivation.

Remember that there are some situations where tiredness gets the upper hand. If you're just recovering from a cold, illness or surgery, be easy on yourself. Always be your body's best listener, because you're all it has.

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