The Vibrant Health Podcast: Episode 9 – Proper Exercise for Adrenal Fatigue

by lydia on June 16, 2015



Welcome back this week for our 9th episode of The Vibrant Health Podcast.

This week Jessica and I dive into proper ‘exercise’ for those in adrenal fatigue. We discuss how our cultures mentality surrounding exercise sets people up for possible over training or emotional stress due to a sense of guilt if you can’t exercise right or enough. We also touch on appropriate movement for folks who have exhausted their energy reserves.

Listen to The Vibrant Health Podcast :: Episode 9

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Download The Vibrant Health Podcast Transcript :: Episode 9

Jessica Espinoza: Hi, everyone. Welcome to episode no. 9 of the Vibrant Health Podcast. I am Jessica from and I’m here with my co-host, Lydia of And today, we want to talk about how to exercise properly if you have adrenal fatigue.
Lydia Shatney: Yes! This is a really important topic for us to discuss because the majority of people do have pretty exhausted adrenal gland function whether you know it or not, so it’s important to know how it affects you in this exhausted state.
So first of all, I know everyone probably knows exercise is good for you. There are health benefits, yada-yada. We’ve all heard it. We all know. We get it, right?
But did you know that it has some pretty cool specific benefits for your overall health and your hormonal health and your mood such as it gives you a dose of dopamine, which is really great for your mood and motivation. And also, appetite control, which is pretty cool. Of course, we’re talking the right amount of exercise and the right quantity and type.
It also can offer you more of serotonin’s beneficial effect on your mood and therefore, will help your sleep and reduce cravings. And it can tame cortisol if you are someone who maybe is in an adrenal state. It will help balance your nervous system (when you’re exercising properly, of course, not overdoing it). And it’s really one of the most profound ways to increase your neurotransmitter levels.
And what’s cool is there’s no anti-depressants that have been shown to impact the brain in as many positive ways as exercise can. So if you’re struggling with fatigue and depression, exercise can be very helpful to you. It doesn’t have to be overkill. It can be very simple.
Exercise also increases your endorphin levels and increases blood flow to the brain.
I share that to kind of recap and maybe be a little bit motivating to people. It’s so important. We know this, but we forget some of the specific benefits that we can really gain from it.
Jessica: Yeah, it’s great. I have really found that I’ve made walking, daily walking a big part of my routine every day. I’ve had to learn from you and listening to my own body about proper exercise because I come from a – we’ll get into exercise culture here in a minute.
I have found that now that I’ve made those daily walks a part of my routine, that I will notice a decrease in brain function and my mood if I don’t get my walks in every day. So really, I can attest to the benefit that I see in brain function and mood improvement and just overall ‘feeling better’ if I just get out for a 20-minute or 30-minute walk every day, whatever my schedule allows. Even if it’s only 10 minutes if I can squeeze it in, it really can make a big difference.
Lydia: Yeah, totally! And so, generally speaking, everyone could benefit. But if you are more fatigued or tired in adrenal exhaustion or maybe you’re in a slower oxidative state, you’re going to have difficulty within your body because your liver is going to be a little slower and all your body processes kind of slow down on you, which makes you tired and of course, it makes it harder to want to exercise in the first place.
But it’s really important because exercise will target your lymph system. That helps toxins from overrunning your body. If you have stagnant lymph, you’re not going to be getting the toxins out as easily.
So movement is really only way to get your lymph going. Your lymph system don’t have a pump. You have to move it to keep things flowing. So it’s really important to move. Maybe if we look at exercise in terms of actual movement, that might help people out a little bit rather than thinking, “Oh, I have to go do 30 minutes on the elliptical or go running.” No, that’s not really the case. You just need to move your body and move it just enough to keep things moving and flowing right.
So you can enjoy a better sense of well-being when your lymph is flowing and toxins are actually getting out of your body.
Also, your liver won’t be able to burn fat as easily if it’s stagnant. Movement, again, can really help with that. And everyone could stand a little help with our liver these days. So you’re going to get blood and nutrients and fresh oxygen to reach all your cells in your body as you move. You can even aid your digestion, believe it or not, absorption, your metabolism and things like that.
So it’s really important to move and gain those benefits, especially for the person in adrenal fatigue because it’s going to support you in a really big way.

Jessica: I think you brought up a really interesting point. When you mentioned the elliptical, it kind of sparked something in my brain. We all know the benefits of exercise and we all have been told by the experts at some point in our life, whether it be our doctor or stuff that we read online or whatever, the proper way to exercise or the amount of exercise that we need to do every day or every week in order to make sure that we don’t get diabetes and we don’t get heart disease and all of these things.
So I think we have this culture in this country of how we view exercise. We’re not viewing it as movement. I like the phrase ‘mindful movement’. That’s something that I really kind of gravitate towards recently, mindful movement because I’m coming in myself from this idea that, “I need to go to the gym five times a week… I need to do an hour of cardio… I need to do an hour of weight training… I need to do this… I need to do that… Otherwise, I’m going to drop over dead from a heart attack because I’m not exercising enough.” We’re not being taught about the proper way to exercise especially those of us who are suffering from adrenal issues.
Actually, I just filmed a video of myself on mindful movement and my own experience with exercise because I’m finding that the more tanked my adrenals get, the less I am able to do. I can’t go do a big weight training. I love lifting weights, I like to lift heavy things. But I did a 30-minute circuit training in my gym back in February. I think I’ve told you this. It was a 30-minute circuit training saying they had these little set-up in their gym. I just loved it because I could go in, I could get some cardio in, I could get some weight training in 30 minutes and be done. I loved it! It made me feel great.
But then, in February, which is ironically about the time that we think that my adrenals kind of starting taking down a little bit, I went into this session and I was so tired for like two or three days afterwards. I could not believe how fatigued it made me feel from just 30 minutes.
Lydia: Right.
Jessica: That really solidified in my head that I need to pay attention to the type of exercise I’m doing and not push it as hard as I’m used to pushing it.
So let’s talk a little bit about that culture that we’ve got and how to transition of how we view exercise and the quality of exercise over the quantity.
Lydia: Absolutely! I’m a ‘less is more’ kind of girl. And in a world driven by the mentality that you have to sweat it all off in a gym, we really need a little perspective. I’m a big believer in moving the body. I’m totally all about it. I don’t think the sedentary lifestyle is really how we were intended to leave and we need to try to stay fit and active to the best of our body’s current ability.
But I do believe when it comes to exercise, less is definitely more. Regular, moderate exercise can heighten endurance, increase muscle tone and flexibility. It can even encourage disease resistance.
But bumping up your workout to a more strenuous level, to this like, “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger” – what’s that saying? I’m sorry, I’m not saying it right.
Jessica: Yeah, yeah. Anything that doesn’t kill you…
Lydia:What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Yeah! Well, okay. Listen, that’s not a good way to look at exercise. I think that we need some perspective here. It doesn’t increase the benefits to you when you are working out until you puke or you’re in the gym five days a week going hard, driving hard, more, more and more.
You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, you can’t exercise your way to health. In fact, mounting evidence suggests that strenuous exercise can actually endanger your health. It can even be deadly.
Have you ever heard of a marathon runner just dropping dead after or during the race? It’s sad when you say that, but it’s becoming something that you hear more and more with the Buff Marathon and other big marathons out there.
So we really should be talking about this before.
Two hours of strenuous, non-stop activity on a daily basis can actually impede estrogen production. So if you think about young girls who have done gymnastics and they work out really hard, they lose their cycle, right? All these things happen. They have a lot of problems. It’s a big deal!
So just because we can do all these intense workout and maybe achieve all these muscle and mass, it doesn’t mean we should. We can also experience calcium loss, especially in smaller women. This can happen if you do excessive exercise. And even if the exercise has been reduced and estrogen levels become more regulated, you can be left with bone loss. That’s something to really think about.
And then if you repeat this cycle, say you like to go to the gym every day and you’re there for two hours, but you don’t have a really strong diet of mineral-rich foods, maybe you’re working out so much that you don’t realize you’re actually tiring yourself out at other times and you drive yourself with coffee and sugar, this is really going to create a stage for permanent bone thinning before menopause starts in your earlier years.
So this is one of the reasons, just one, why strenuous exercising is a problem. It can actually increase loss of body fat, which will cause your hormones to plummet. I know a lot of women want lower body fat, but ladies, really, we got to have some body fat. We’re supposed to.
So if a hormonal deficiency occurs, bone loss can be expected. This is a big problem.
Also, the increase in fat loss will drain your estrogen stores and that will produce a regular cycle like I just said or you can have a cessation of it altogether. I’ve had a couple of clients who were heavy athletes for years and years and years and now, they’ve got all these problems now.
Another reason why less is more is exercising augments oxidative stress in your body. This, in turn, creates free radicals. And those, they’re basically unbalanced molecules that are doing damage to the tissues in your body.
So high intensity training actually generates a super abundance of these free radicals. They’re found to be the cause of over 50 diseases. Basically, in time, they’re going to debilitate your immune system and make you more vulnerable to premature aging, heart attacks, cataracts, infection and a number of cancers.
So if you look at someone – and I’m not trying to be rude or unkind or anything like that, but I’m just going to point out that if you look at someone who’s a marathon runner, for example, they’re going to have more oxidative stress and you’re going to see it on their skin. You’re going to see their skin is wrinkling. Unless they’re really purposefully rebuilding or something, most people, you’re going to see this – oxidative stress in their skin. And usually in their face, you’ll see more wrinkles and stuff. And that’s what’s happening.
So that is one thing that will tell me, “Hey! We’re overdoing it here. That’s pretty significant.
Jessica: Yeah, it’s interesting because I have known some marathon runners and athletes over the years. It’s interesting that you mentioned that about the oxidative stress because that’s something that I didn’t really know, but I remember seeing some of these people and thinking, “You know, they don’t really look healthy, but they should be healthy because they run for 30 miles a day and they do all these things and get all these exercise. They’ve got to be in tip-top shape.” But I’ve always remembered thinking that sometimes, they just don’t look healthy to me.
So essentially, that kind of ties in to that must be what I’m seeing. Their skin and maybe just in their physique as a whole that there’s definitely a lot more stress going on than we ever knew.
Lydia: Right, right.
Jessica: I come from, like I mentioned, doing x numbers of hours in the gym per day, kind of feeling like that’s what I need to do, but I think that there is a lot of guilt that comes along with our exercise culture.
So let’s start talking about how to exercise properly when you’ve got adrenal fatigue because I still find myself feeling a little bit guilty if I don’t walk for as long as I feel like I should or if maybe I don’t do my yoga in the morning like I normally do or sometimes, maybe, I just feel so tired that I don’t do anything during the day. At the end of the day, I find myself feeling guilty that I didn’t do something.
So let’s talk a little bit about how we can exercise properly for adrenal fatigue and also, how we can work through this guilt and how not to feel guilty.

Lydia: Yes, stop it with the guilt already. So when you have adrenal exhaustion – and really, I don’t think people understand what this really is. You really have to test to find out for sure.
But let’s say you don’t have the kind of energy you want, you are someone who maybe doesn’t have as much stamina as you’d like, you tend to get sick, you get cold, you have allergies, you have food allergies, you don’t sleep well or when you wake up in the morning, you’re still tired, you wish you could go back to bed, if you’re dragging your anchor, basically, it’s possible you have some tired adrenals going on. Most people do.
So we’re going to assume that the majority of people do. Not everyone is totally exhausted, but a lot of people are relatively tired. It’s important to understand that actually, rest is more important for that person than exercise.
Now, that doesn’t mean, “Don’t exercise.” What that means is you have to learn to prioritize rest over the go, go, go lifestyle and that demanding, athletic type of workout.
Now, most pp are not athletes and most people never will be nor do they need to be. So we have this culture, this mindset of workouts that are more geared for athletes. Who really needs to be an athlete? Well, nobody really does, not truly. But we do have a lot of athletes out there and that’s fine. But if you’re going to be an athlete, you got to take really, really good care of yourself. And if you’re already in a depleted state, trying to be an athlete is not a good idea.
So let’s be realistic here and just think about it. Throughout history, typical culture, the women – let’s talk about the women because the majority of you are probably women listening to us – they were very active. They did their chores daily. They had to walk and carry their water, they did their laundry by hand. They moved a lot.
They were also very sedentary during times of the year. Maybe during the winter, they weren’t quite as active or maybe different times of the year, they were less active. So we have to be more realistic and intuitive about movement and exercise.
There’s no rule that, “You have to exercise five times a week at the gym, Monday through Friday, this amount of time or you didn’t do enough.” Who gets to decide that?
So we really need to let our bodies dictate what activity we need. And in order to do that, we need to get in tune with our bodies and trust that our bodies are speaking to us.
Your adrenal glands are one of the two main energy glands in your body – your adrenals and your thyroid. And when they are functioning poorly, you can’t rely on them to produce the kind of energy you want. So is it a good idea to drive them and force them and do extensive exercise? Well, no. That’s like whipping a tired horse.
You have to be gentle with them. You have to rehabilitate your adrenal glands with rest primarily, sleep, nourishment, nutrients and just enough movement because you need the movement for so many things I’ve just mentioned.
It’s best to perform some type of gentle physical activity every day. We don’t even have to call it ‘exercise’. Let’s just stop calling it ‘exercise’. Let’s say, “You need to move your body.” Don’t just lie around all day because you’re going to become stagnant and not feel good. Get up, take a walk. If you’re tired at the end of your walk, rest and try again the next day.
Keep nourishing yourself, keep resting and keep trying. Don’t give up on yourself. Walking is probably the easiest thing anyone can do and it’s sort of is kind of like a weight bearing exercise because you are carrying your own weight.
So just perform gentle exercise. Strenuous exercise is not necessary or recommended for someone with adrenal exhaustion. We’re talking stage III, stage II. You really want light exercise, such as walking, maybe a nice bike ride. You don’t need to cycle like you’re going to race. I mean, why do we need to do that?
Swimming, leisurely swimming, dancing if you like it (maybe not at the club until 2 a.m. with alcohol, but some dancing around the house with the kids, having fun). Yoga is fantastic, especially gentle yoga, not the extreme yoga where you’re doing all these back bend type things and the kind that you’re doing where you’ve got the heat – I forget what it’s called.

Jessica: Oh, I think that’s Bikram if I remember correctly.

Lydia: Bikram, yeah. That’s a really intense yoga, really intense.
So you want to do things that are gentler, they’re not accelerating your heart rate too much. Usually, with adrenal exhaustion, you have poor heart function unfortunately, so you have to really be careful.
Someone in adrenal exhaustion from my hair analysis perspective usually has low potassium. Well, what does that mean? You need good potassium to have good function. So if you have low potassium, you can’t overdo it. You just can’t. It’s not smart, it’s not wise.
So you want gentle physical activity every day. Definitely do not push any exercise to exhaustion. And exercising outside is probably a good idea. Okay, I said ‘exercising’, but what I really mean is ‘moving’.
Jessica: Yes, we’re going to have to retrain our vocabulary.

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Lydia: Even gardening. For example, the other day – I don’t exercise at the gym. I don’t take classes. I get out and I go for walks or I do stretches or rebounding, some dancing. I’m very simple with my workouts. Sometimes, I’ll do weights if I feel like it. Right now, I’m trying to be very easy on myself because I don’t want to overdo it. I want to heal. So movement is very simple for me.
But the other day, I was feeling good and I had a job to do. We had to drag dirt up to a garden plot from one spot. And so I was filling up trash can full of dirt and dragging up the hill and dumping it in the garden. That was like a cross-fit workout, man. It was necessary. I did it and I said, “I’m going to take a break and I’m going to stop because I know if I keep going, even though I probably could, I might overdo it.” So I stopped and it was fine. It was great! I actually enjoyed it. I felt good to do hard work like that.
I wouldn’t do that every day. I wouldn’t go overboard because I wouldn’t want to draw myself out. I know where my health is at and I’m trying to be very careful.
So that’s just a very basic summary for people who may feel like they are adrenal fatigued. If you don’t know for sure, yeah, go get tested if you can, but if you are assuming that you are, you really just want to move your body because you need to keep your lymph flowing and not be sedentary all the time.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s great. A lot of it is stuff that I do. I try to do yoga or T-Tapp or dancing. That’s a lot of what I do. I walk, I do my yoga. The T-Tapp is definitely a good – we’ve talked about T-Tapp before. If you’re not familiar with T-Tapp, we’ll definitely share a link about that.
Now, what do you feel about as far as weight training? What you were doing the other day, that was really functional exercise. You had a job that you had to do, you got it done and you were getting your exercise in during that. Sometimes, I feel like my body craved some sort of weight training. So what do you have to say about that as far as people in my position and other people who have adrenal fatigue?

Lydia: Well, I think it’s probably okay for people to do some weight training and it’s actually a good idea. But you have to start out slow, low and slow and give yourself a chance to see how you do.
I actually like weights as long as you know what you’re doing. That’s where maybe an instructor could come in and be helpful if you’re not really sure what you’re doing. You don’t want to injure yourself.
Another thing with people in adrenal fatigue, what we don’t understand is how it affects our muscles, ligaments and joints in our body. That’s a whole other podcast probably. But if your adrenals are weak and fatigued, you really could become susceptible to injury. I’ve done this a couple of times myself. So I’d like to spare other people the problem. So just know – I have an article, I’ll link it – that when your adrenal glands are weak, your whole core is weak basically.
So it is a good idea to try and work and strengthen your core, but not overdone. Be simple. Weight training is one way you can do that. It could be actually lifting weights or you could use your own body weight.
I might say that people start out with your own body weight, something like lunges or squats because those are using bigger muscle groups in the body and most people, those are stronger for them and it’s a little easier to start there rather than trying to do push-ups and things like that (although push-ups are great).
Maybe planks would be another one that most people can do and start out small and work their way up. And then, as far as weights go, you want to know what you’re doing. You really could hurt yourself especially if you’re trying to do too much.
I like rowing. I like the rowing machines. If you have access to that, that’s a great option or even just starting with some resistance bands. That’s nice and simple.
And once you feel like you are healing and you’re a little stronger, you can start adding in more weights and different exercises. I really like Kettlebells, but I unfortunately have a small little hernia. I can’t do that. So you have to really pay attention to your health when you’re thinking about what weight lifting you’re doing.
So if you’re really not competent in that, please work with someone just to be safe and take it easy and go slow.
I really like burst training where you’re just doing these short, little bursts. It’s nice to work all your muscles in a functional way. That’s why maybe working with someone is great because they can show you different types of movements that will work more muscle groups rather than, “Here, let me just go do arm curls and focus on one muscle.”
So anyway, there are so many cool things that you can do. There are some really simple things you can do and you don’t even need a gym. And like you were saying, T-Tapp. T-Tapp is actually probably really great for the adrenally fatigued – mama’s out there or women in general especially when it comes to strengthening their core. She has some really great core work that she really does. It’s a simple workout and you don’t need very much time. It’s very effective.
Definitely, T-Tapp is great. Yoga is great if you can do it. There are plenty of varieties out there. And even if you don’t want to do any of that stuff and you like to garden, great! That’s great! You’re squatting, you’re lifting, you’re using a lot of your muscle groups in a very functional way.

Jessica: That’s great! Hopefully, this would be super helpful for a lot of people because I think that we haven’t been taught how to exercise properly especially for people who have the adrenal problems and the energy problems.
We talk about mind shifts a lot on our podcast because we really, as a culture, are in a place right now where we’re having to do a lot of shifting in how we view nutrition, health, exercise and all that.
So hopefully, the information that we’ve been able to share with you today can help you if you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue or even if you don’t that you officially have adrenal fatigue or if your adrenals are stressed like Lydia was saying there. There are very few people who don’t have some sort of adrenal stress going on. These are definitely tips.
I know that there is so much guilt, like we’ve talked about earlier, associated with not getting the number of hours of exercise that you need per week, but you really could be doing a lot more damage to your body than benefits.

Lydia: Right.
Jessica: Anything you want to say in closing, like key points for people to focus on, things to remember whenever they’re thinking about moving their body and exercising and not overdoing it?

Lydia: I think keeping it short and sweet is really good. We don’t need to overdo it. Even long, slow walks, hikes are great a couple times a week – and even short walks. For example, I may not have time in my day, so I might take a break in between client calls and go for a quick walk as I’m moving in between sitting.

Jessica: Mm-hmmm…

Lydia: I prefer burst training over excessive cardio. I think that’s a better approach. It gives you more intensity, but it doesn’t overdo it and give you that free radical damage. You want to work all muscles in a functional way.
Honestly, if you live an active life, maybe you’re a very busy homesteader or you are working on your house all the time, carrying things, lifting things and moving, you probably are moving enough. So you maybe don’t even have to necessarily think of it in terms of, “Oh, I have to go get in a workout.
I think minimizing cardio for most people is probably a good idea. I think some people do too much cardio. We don’t really need hours of cardio in a day. Yoga is awesome. I really love yoga. I think anyone could benefit from yoga. If you’ve ever seen a yoga instructor, you might notice how calm they are. And usually, they’re pretty strong s well. So that’s kind of cool and telling right there.
And also, you want to eat properly before and after workouts. Some people are in adrenal fatigue and they get up in the morning and the first thing they do is go and work out. For some people, that may be okay and for some people, it may not be. So it really is good to assess where your health is at so you know that the workouts you are doing are not harming you.
I recommend people eat at least a little something beforehand, maybe an hour before – maybe not on an empty stomach. I know I’m countering what some of the health fitness people are going to say, but I’d rather you eat a little something and give you that fuel to get you through your workout if it’s going to be a little bit more intense, if it’s going to be like some burst training or something. If it’s just walk, you should be fine.
And make sure after you’ve worked out, if it had any intensity to it, you’re checking to see if you need a snack and you’re staying well-hydrated. You don’t want your blood sugar to tank on you because people with adrenal fatigue usually have hypoglycemia and other blood sugar imbalances.
So it’s pretty basic stuff. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. I think more people can benefit from finding that balance for themselves. So there are the people who are more sedentary who may be sedentary due to feeling that they have to do a workout a certain way, but yet, they don’t want to. So let’s snip that in the bud. But then, we’ve also got people who are overdoing it too. Let’s just be careful so you don’t make your health any worse.
Jessica: Awesome! Great points. Alright! Well, I think we are going to go ahead and wrap everything up. We’re keeping it short and sweet today. Hopefully, this was helpful for you guys. But again, always let us know if you have questions. We will be back again next week with another episode of the Vibrant Health Podcast. We will talk to you guys later. Have a great day!
Lydia: Bye!


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Betty March 9, 2016 at 7:23 am

This is great! I have been extremely exhausted and way too sedentary for a few months now. All last year I struggled to get through,but by November, I could hardly move.
I’m not use to this much rest, but i’m still so exhausted. I am noticing a little more time of being able to be up, but I can lose all energy in literally a heartbeat.

I have food allergies I didn’t have before, I have pain all over, gosh,I feel like a train wreck! At 5he moment, I am tentatively diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, but haven’t seen the rheumatologist til this coming week.

I have gone gluten and grain free. Noticing I need to cut out dairy too. I only have fruit or honey sweetening, but not often. My weight is still not coming off and i’m still exhausted.

I’ve learned there’s a big difference between tired and exhaustion. I’m praying this is a temporary condition, whatever it’s called.

Although I have been sedentary lately (compared to usual ), I can’t just lay here. I get up and do something, like laundry, or cook, but finding whatever I do has to be in stages.

Thanks for this podcast. I will start pushing myself to walk, starting slow and easy and stop when I need to. Hopefully, I will begin to leave the fatigue behind.

Have a great day.


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