Should I Go to the Gym If I Am Tired?

Nearly everybody who works out at the end of the day has had this experience: You've scheduled time at the gym but by the time you're done with work you feel so tired you can hardly stand up. Surprisingly, you might find that a trip to the gym, far from being a bad idea, is just what your body ordered.

Women in a pilates class after work. (Image: Tashi-Delek/iStock/Getty Images)

Exercise Boosts Energy

According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, in "You: The Owner's Manual," and countless other health experts, a session of moderate to vigorous exercise actually can increase your energy levels when you're feeling tired. The increased heart rate will boost your awareness and reduce feelings of fatigue. Simultaneously, your body releases the "feel good" hormone serotonin in response to increased activity. For the long term, regular exercise can help you sleep better, meaning you're less likely to feel fatigued the next day.


Stress, fatigue and exercise interact complexly. If you are tired from stress, a workout can help relieve the stress symptoms and help you feel more relaxed and full of energy, but if your stress primarily is because you've got too much on your plate, the last thing you need is to spend an hour with another commitment. On the other hand, better sleep from exercise can combat the sleep problems that often accompany stress.

Medical Problems

Sometimes fatigue is the result of a medical problem, such as flu, chronic fatigue syndrome or a thyroid disorder. Time at the gym rarely helps if you feel tired for these reasons, and actually can exacerbate your feelings. If you feel tired just once a week at gym time, this probably isn't the issue, but if you're always feeling unusually tired, you might want to check with your doctor.

Bottom Line

Under most circumstances, feeling tired isn't a reason to skip a trip to the gym; in fact, it's a reason to go to the gym. However, if your feelings of tiredness stem from an overly full schedule or a medical problem, you might want to skip that session. This doesn't mean you should stop exercising. Instead, fiddle with your calendar or check with your doctor to come up with an exercise program that works for your immediate needs.

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