Exercise is supposed to make you feel energized — not exhausted. But if you're feeling lethargic after your workout, you're not alone. When you exercise, you burn calories and expend energy. Depending on the length and intensity of your workout, you may be physically taxing your body, requiring water, nutrients and rest to recover. Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program, particularly if you have health conditions or injuries.
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Listen to Your Body
Even if you're only exercising once or twice a week, don't blame yourself for getting tired. Instead of beating yourself up for being out of shape and forcing yourself to march back into the gym the following day, take the cues your body is giving you. When you're tired, your body is demanding rest and nutrients to rebuild your muscles and energize you. Although your workout might have been what pushed you over the edge, chances are you're neglecting your body before you even hit the gym.
Eat Before and After Your Workout
It's imperative to eat nutritious foods both before and after you exercise to fuel your body and replace lost calories, vitamins and minerals. Eat a small snack about an hour before you work out. If you plan on exercising for less than an hour, eat carbohydrates that will provide a quick burst of energy, like a bagel or a piece of toast, Columbia University's Go Ask Alice! health-services website suggests. If you are working out for longer than an hour, choose a source of carbohydrates that takes longer to digest, like a banana.
Approximately half an hour after you work out, refuel your body with a snack that contains both protein and carbohydrates, like yogurt with fruit. This snack will replace the glycogen stores that have been depleted during exercise, providing an energy boost.
Get Adequate Hydration
When you exercise, you sweat. Sweat is mostly water, and you need to replenish this water after you exercise. If you don't, you risk dehydration, which may make you feel lethargic and dizzy. Three hours before you exercise, start drinking water. During these three hours, drink approximately 3 cups of water. While you work out, drink 1 cup of water every 20 minutes. After exercise, drink 3 cups of water for every pound you lost while exercising.
If you've been burning the candle at both ends, exercise might be impossible. If you're spending your nights studying, working or taking care of your family instead of sleeping, you're depriving your body — and this can make you feel even more tired after a workout. Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night to allow your muscles to rest and rebuild.
Play It Safe
In rare cases, fatigue or exhaustion may be the result of a serious medical condition, like chronic fatigue syndrome or mononucleosis. If you have any medical symptoms in addition to your exhaustion after exercising, contact your doctor.
- Idea Fit: Do Low-Carb Diets Affect Exercise Fatigue?
- Columbia University — Go Ask Alice!; Is it Better to Eat Before or After Exercise?; Jan. 7, 2005
- Columbus Sports; Question of the Week: How Do I Prevent Being So Exhausted After My Morning Workout?; Dan Falkenberg
- Idea Fit: Overexertion Can Cause Serious Harm