Exercises for Adrenal Fatigue
The sheer exhaustion that develops because of adrenal fatigue can make it incredibly difficult to implement -- and stick to -- an exercise program. Adrenal fatigue is a potentially debilitating condition caused by the body's inability to cope with chronic stress. The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and release certain hormones in response. To help the body cope with adrenal fatigue, exercise should be gentle and supportive.
The gentle stretching moves of Hatha yoga can give you a full body workout without stressing your body and adrenal glands even more. Avoid strenuous styles of yoga, such as Bikram, Ashtanga, vigorous vinyasa flow or hot yoga. Instead opt for Hatha, Iyengar, Restorative or Yin classes. If you are too fatigued to join a public class, consider practicing a gentle yoga routine on DVD, online video or podcast from the comfort of your home.
Yoga teacher and Yoga Journal columnist Roger Cole recommends "Legs Up the Wall Pose" to help combat adrenal fatigue. To perform this pose, lie on your back with the edge of your buttocks touching a wall. Feel free to elevate your hips with a pillow or yoga bolster if it feels more comfortable. Walk your feet up the wall until your legs are fully extended. If this isn't comfortable, place the soles of your feet on the wall instead. Stay in this position anywhere from two to 30 minutes.
Gentle Cardiovascular Exercise
According to Alissa Vitti, author of "Woman Code," exercising vigorously and for long periods of time can actually exacerbate adrenal fatigue. She recommends an exercise program that stresses short bursts of gentle exercise such as walking or light jogging. Limit these exercise sessions to 20 minutes each, three to four days per week. Walking is highly recommended for anyone suffering from adrenal fatigue and if you are too exhausted to walk outside in the fresh air, make sure to walk around your house throughout the day.
Light Resistance Training
Light resistance training is also recommended as part of a balanced exercise program for adrenal fatigue sufferers. Resistance training includes any exercises where your muscles must work against force, for example, swimming, lifting weights or riding a bicycle. If you choose to lift weights as part of your exercise session, try to target all of the major muscle groups: legs, buttocks, core, back, chest and arms. Aim for two days per week and keep the sessions to 20 minutes max.
Tips and Considerations
When you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, the most important thing you can do is to not put your body under any undue stress. Stay alert to your energy levels as you exercise; if you find yourself fatiguing easily, it's time to stop and take a rest. Rest for two days and, as your energy increases, feel free to practice a gentle stretching routine like yoga or tai chi on your "rest" days. Also, as your energy slowly returns, you may incrementally increase your daily exercise time from 20 to 60 minutes. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
- Yoga Journal: Treating Adrenal Exhaustion
- Christianne Northrup, M.D.: Adrenal Fatigue
- Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue; Kathryn Simpson
- Woman Code; Alisa Vitti
- Seaborg, Eric. The myth of adrenal fatigue. Endocrine News. Updated September 2017.
- Cadegiani FA, Kater CE. Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review. BMC Endocr Disord. 2016;16(1):48. doi:10.1186/s12902-016-0128-4
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms and causes: what are the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency? Updated September 1, 2018.
- Akturk HK, Chindris AM, Hines JM, Singh RJ, Bernet VJ. Over-the-counter adrenal support supplements contain thyroid and steroid-based adrenal hormones. Mayo Clin Proc. 2018;93(3):284-290. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.10.019
Published author, yoga teacher and health and wellness expert Nicole Carlin has written professionally since 2005. Her two non-fiction books "Chakra Detox" and "Hot Yoga, Hotter Sex" reflect the rigorous academic knowledge she brings to the wellness industry. Carlin holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Master of Arts in sexuality.