First, let’s recap what we touched on in a previous article, “Resetting the Circadian Rhythm,” on why exercise is crucial to improving adrenal health:
While exercise is technically considered by the body to be a “stressor,” it is actually one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve adrenal health
Consistent, low to moderate intensity exercise can improve how efficiently your cells use the cortisol your body produces
Regular exercise increases the “cortisol release threshold,” that is, people who exercise require more significant stressors than, say, walking down the block to trigger release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
There is a caveat to these statements. The proper exercise regimen for adrenal fatigue is heavily reliant on what stage of maladaptation you are in. If you are in the middle stage, resistance, you can probably tolerate slightly more intense work-outs than people in the last stage, exhaustion. The recommendations below take each stage into separate consideration. Remember, only exercise to your own tolerance, and ideally, combine your healthy exercise habits with good eating and sleep habits, and supplementation as recommended by your holisitic practitioner.
***Note: these recommendations are meant for my standard, low to moderate activity clients, NOT athletes, body builders, or weight lifters. People who engage in high to very-high levels of activity daily should see “De- loading for Adrenal & Neurological Health” article. Exercise for Stage I: Alarm
Low to moderate intensity exercise upon waking is ideal. Try going for a 15-20 minute walk, or ride the recumbent bike at the gym and read a book!
Light to moderate resistance training focusing on whole body movements like squats, lunges, pull-downs, push-ups, and overhead press should be done twice weekly. If your gym has a “circuit,” that is a great option! (If you don’t know what a circuit is or whether your gym has one, just as someone who works there, “do you have a circuit room?”)
Any exercise after 2 p.m. should be relatively low key-gentle yin yoga is a great option
Exercise for Stage II: Resistance
Low to moderate intensity exercise upon waking, such as walking or biking, 5 times per week
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) twice per week. What is HIIT? Pick your cardio activity of choice: walking, jogging, biking, stairs, etc, and set your timer for 10 minutes total. For 1.5 minutes, do the activity at a light-moderate pace. For 30 seconds, do the activity at an intense pace. Alternate between the two for the full ten minutes.
Strength train 2-3 times per week focusing on whole body movements
It is crucial for people in the resistance stage to complete their daily exercise in the morning whenever possible. Any exercise done past 2 p.m. should be gentle and mild, like yoga, stretching, or a walk around the neighborhood.
Exercise for Stage III: Exhaustion
For people in the exhaustion phase, the key is to go slow and take it easy. Since these people are chronically depleted of cortisol, they are prone to increased pain and difficult recovery.
A slow to moderate walk around the neighborhood every morning, or 10-15 minutes at a slow pace on the recumbent bike at the gym daily
Low intensity swimming 2-3 times per week, or water aerobics, followed by 10 minutes in the hot tub or sauna
Gentle yin yoga 2-3 times weekly
People in all stages of adrenal maladaptation should consider getting a Fitbit or other fitness tracking device, as it is a great tool with which you can set goals, monitor heart-rate & calories burned, and track sleep. Clients at ANW are able to sync their Fitbit or other device with our online accountability program which allows their doctor to monitor their progress and make specific recommendations based on their daily goals.