Working out is probably the last thing on your mind when you aren’t getting quality sleep. And truth be told, when you’re running on fumes, a tough workout can be counterproductive.
In order to get stronger, you have to recover well. Sleep is a major component of recovery. No doubt you’ve heard that it helps you lose weight, but sleep also allows your body to repair the good damage that occurs when exercising. If you don’t get enough sleep and continue to stress your body, you probably won’t get stronger or faster or leaner.
But there are exercises you can do that won’t tax your system and will actually help you feel better. Here are 3 exercises you should do when you’re exhausted.
It’s sounds silly, but breathing is an exercise. Your diaphragm is the muscle you’re working in this exercise. We take around 20,000 breaths per day. So it makes sense to make sure all those reps are performed well. When we’re chronically tired and stressed we tend to adopt poor breathing patterns. Taking proper breaths can improve posture, reduce heart rate and blood pressure, calm the nervous system, and help you sleep better.
Try This: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat against a wall. Focus on breathing into your back, sides, and belly equally. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth making your exhale longer than your inhale. Get all the air out. Every. Last. Ounce.
- Roll to Release
Foam rolling or self-myofascial release (SMR) is a great way to relax tense muscles and release kinks. Rolling is like a poor-man’s massage. And you don’t need a foam roller to do it (although if you have one, great!) You can use a tennis ball to give yourself a mini massage. Just like when getting a massage from a therapist, SMR stimulates circulation, hydrates tissue, and calms the nervous system.
Try This: While standing, place a tennis ball between your upper back and the wall. Bend your knees and shift your body so the ball moves around taking care to not let the ball roll over the spine. If you find a tender spot, hover over it until it releases which may take up to 30 seconds. Spend 1-2 minutes on each shoulder blade. The more you do this exercise, the less you’ll find trigger points.
- Mobility Exercises
Mobility exercises actively stretch your muscles. To do them, you move your joint through a range of motion. Mobility exercises are usually enhanced by doing SMR beforehand. Mobility exercises are different from stretches. Stretches lengthen a muscle at its end range. Mobility exercises ask your muscles to gradually allow more range of motion by moving it gently through its full length.
Try This: Your chest muscles tend to get tight if you work on a computer for the majority of the day. Shown in the video below is an exercise that mobilizes the muscles surrounding the shoulder, including the pecs, as well as giving the spine some freedom to rotate.
All of these exercises are safe to do every day. Try them before going to bed. Exercise is not always seeing how much you can sweat or how sore you can be. Why not choose exercises that promote muscular balance? The side effects of all these exercises are a sense of relaxation, happy muscles, and better sleep!
Sara Lewis is the owner of Mix Fitness. She has a degree in Exercise and Health Promotion and more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Sara chose this career because of a fascination with human anatomy and how the body responds to exercise. She loves working with clients who have limited mobility, unexplained aches and pains, and new moms. Sara trains clients and teaches Fit Momma Training in western Loudoun County, VA.
Check out her 8-week online program, Restore the Core.
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