Movement Tips & Tricks for Adrenal Burnout (How to Exercise Safely)



Is exercise helpful or harmful when you have adrenal fatigue? When you are exhausted and burnout, it might be tempting to push through the fatigue and force yourself to exercise or join a gym training program. Maybe you are even forcing yourself to do CrossFit while suffering with adrenal burnout.

When your system is already taxed, it may actually be completely counterproductive to perform intense exercise or training. It could potentially slow your recovery (significantly!) and possibly even prevent you from healing or reaching your health goals altogether. 

In today's episode, we explore what it means to exercise when you are exhausted or have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. I give you some simple ways to determine what is the right amount of exercise for you. Plus, I teach you some simple strategies to support intense exercise while you are trying to heal and recover from adrenal fatigue or HPA-axis dysfunction.


Hey, guys. How's it going? Kendra here. Welcome to another episode of High End Energy TV. As always, I'm excited. It doesn't take much to get me excited. We're talking about what I think is a very important topic.

Guys, if you want to join me live on this podcast I do this as a Facebook Live every Tuesday. Typically at 4 P.M. We're doing it a little bit early today because I do have an appointment. If you don't have time to watch this whole video make sure to subscribe to the High End Energy Podcast. You can do that on iTunes, you can do that on Google Play, you can do that on Spotify, and that way you can listen to me as you walk, as you're in your car, any of those ways.

If you do want to ask me, if you want to interact with me live, make sure to join the Facebook Live. It's a pretty cool way to ask me questions, to say hey, for us to connect because I love connecting with you guys.

If you guys are on with me live right now on Facebook make sure to say hi in the comments, let me know you're here. We're going to dive into today's topic, which is all about exercise.

The big question is that maybe you want me to answer that I'm teasing in the description of this video is, "Is exercise hurting your energy level?" You know, we've gotten a lot of information about exercise and health over the past couple decades, right? I don't think I need to convince you that exercise is important.

I think we are all well-aware that in order to feel good, in order to be healthy, in order to maintain our weight, in order to have longevity and long lives that we actually need to focus on exercising on a regular basis. Right? That is very important. Like I said, I don't need to convince you.

I feel like a lot of the exercise advice that we've been given is slightly flawed. I know a lot of people feel like more is better. If you read this in a lot of magazines ... I remember as a teenager reading Cosmo magazine and it was always like, "The more you can exercise, the better. More is better. More is better."

You know, I honestly feel like in our society there is this big perception that more is better with a lot of things but more is not always better. When it comes to exercise that could be the case. Okay?

If you are exercising in a specific way, if you are over-exercising or under-exercising, you could be hurting your energy levels. Okay? Especially if you are in a healing situation. Meaning that you are going through maybe a health protocol, maybe you're not feeling your best, maybe you've been struggling with low energy for some time now and you don't have a lot of energy to go around and in that case you actually have to be very, very careful with the way that you exercise or you might actually be draining your energy levels further and actually doing yourself a disservice and actually preventing yourself from healing.

Hey, Angela. Angela is on. She says, "Hi, Kendra. Thanks for your awesome calls." You are very welcome, Angela. I hope this is helpful. All right.

Let's talk about what exercise actually is. Yes, we know that exercise is helpful. It helps us get strong. It helps us lose weight. What does it actually do?

I think the most important thing for us to understand about exercise is that exercise is stress. Okay? Exercise actually causes trauma to the body. When I say exercise I'm talking about more than just moving. I'm not referring to walking or light yoga. I'm referring to the type of exercise that might make you feel sore, where you raise your heart rate, and you might actually sweat a bit.

When I say exercise I'm talking about maybe a gym workout. Like maybe going to something kind of Crossfit-esque. I'm talking about going for a longer run. I'm talking about doing a power yoga class. I'm talking about heavy weight lifting. I'm talking about the kind of exercise where you're going to feel it the next day, you're going to feel that soreness.

What in effect is happening is you are in effect traumatizing the body with exercise. You are causing stress on your body. This is not necessarily a bad thing depending on the other types of stress that your body actually might have going on at the time.

It can be a good stress but for those of us who are already significantly stressed ... When I'm referring to stress I'm not just talking about, "Oh, I have a lot of mental and emotional stress. My job sucks. My family is really stressful." That sort of thing.

I'm talking about that stress with the addition of the physiological stress. The stuff that might be going on under the hood like gut infections or hormonal imbalances or mineral issues or heavy metals, chemicals, that sort of thing. All these things that can actually lead to more stress on our body and then when you layer exercise on top of that sometimes it's just too much for our body.

In order for us to actually benefit and get the metabolic effect or the strength-building, muscle-building effect from exercise we have to do that damage and where we actually get stronger is when the repair happens.

Typically, with exercise we're actually damaging and breaking down and tearing apart muscle fibers and then our body sees that stress and is like, "Okay, we need to make that stronger" and it goes in and it makes it stronger. Okay?

If you're never exercising and you're never getting what's called hormesis or that hometic effect, which is that stress effect on the muscle, then you're never getting that repair and your body doesn't really think it needs to get stronger. Your body only adapts to what it thinks it needs to adapt to.

If you told your body that life is really cruise-y, I just cruise around, I sit a lot, I watch Netflix, I'm on my computer all day, then your body is only going to adapt to that level but if you're constantly challenging your body with heavier or more intense forms of exercise your body will start to adapt.

Now the big issue comes for a lot of us who are struggling with burnout and exhaustion and low energy is that we get that hermetic effect, so we get that hormesis, we get that stress, but we don't regenerate properly. We don't repair because our body is too stressed out with other things to do, dealing with the immune issues, the gut issues, the mineral issues, or it just doesn't have the proper nutrition to make that repair or rebuilding that regeneration happen and then we end up with just a lot of added stress or it just really takes our body a long time to make that happen because it's got so much it's dealing with.

Now if this is going on with you, if exercise is having a counter-acting effect, if it's kind of harming your body or making the healing process more difficult for your body, typically you're going to have a really long recovery time.

Yes, when you do some level of intense exercise where you're doing something you haven't done before, yes, you're going to be sore, you're probably going to be sore for two or three days. That's okay. When you continue to do that exercise that recovery time should become less. Ideally, we should have pretty quick recovery times. If you don't have that recovery time it's a pretty good sign that the exercise that you're doing is actually depleting you further.

When you're a really strong person, when you're really healthy, you have good energy levels, you feel great, exercise is a really good stress. You should have quick recovery time, you should be able to have high performance. When you're doing that exercise you should feel really great and energized after that exercise.

There's a good chance if you're listening to me on the podcast right now or hanging out with me on Facebook live this might not be the case for you. Typically, people don't come and listen to me when they feel fantastic. Most people listen to me because they're not feeling so hot, right?

When it comes to exercise the most important thing is to be extra, extra mindful. I had to be incredibly mindful when I was dealing with burnout because it was literally making me feel terrible. I would exercise and then I would feel like I got bitch slapped across the face with a train or a truck because I literally felt like I'd just been run over. I was just flat out exhausted. I felt like I was lying in a ditch, like I could just go to sleep after those exercises.

That's a sign that the exercise you did is way too intense for you and it's depleting your energy levels. Now this is really tricky and this was really tricky for me because I'm an outdoor enthusiast. My life is in the mountains. I live in a very active community, a very active town.

A lot of people who are out in the mountains we're mountain biking, we're climbing, we're doing all these things and when I was feeling exhausted from these things and when I was unable to keep up and do these things I felt very isolated from my community, my friends, my partner, because I literally couldn't keep up.

That's what I do for fun. That's my enjoyment, that's my hobbies. I don't do arts and crafts. Arts and crafts are my fucking worst nightmare. That's not something I want to do. Doing a collage? Horrible. A puzzle? Not good. That stuff is just not for me.

For me, to enjoy myself and really truly feel like myself and feel alive I need to be out there doing those things. Unfortunately, those things require a lot of energy.

This was a really hard time. You might be in this situation too. Jamie just hopped on. Hey, Jamie. She says, "Good timing. This is what's happening to me." Very, very real for Jamie. She's having these similar issues.

Yeah. It's a tough thing but the thing is, especially when we have metal toxicity and especially when we have copper toxicity, typically you are going to feel like garbage after a workout because any time you raise the metabolic rate and that is what exercise does, your body will start immobilizing copper, it will start immobilizing metals, and if your detox pathways can't keep up because you don't have the detoxification, because you don't have good mineral levels, because your body is unhealthy, those things just get redeposited and they don't actually move out of your body and they make you feel like shit.

I want to talk a little bit about some things because we do want to move and if you are sick, if you are in fatigue, if you are in burnout ... I'm getting self-conscious now because Cody [inaudible 00:11:58] just hopped on and he's my personal trainer and he's probably going to judge everything I say. I just got super self-conscious but it's okay. I'm just going to roll with it. I'm glad you're here, Cody. Really stoked to always see you on for these calls.

Okay. I want to talk a little bit about how to dial it back. This is the most important because you do have to be really mindful with exercise and if you do exercise and you feel really energized and good after it that is how you should be feeling and that's a good sign that that exercise that you just did was at a good intensity level for you.

If you're getting that flat out exhausted, burned out, like you could go to sleep, like you're just feeling so wiped out after exercise, you are going to have to dial it back and that might be really challenging for you because maybe you're like me and you have a bit of an exercise addiction and you want to exercise, you want to do those things.

This actually reminds me of a story now that Cody just jumped on because when I first started up at Cody's gym I was in the middle of ... I had just started getting into hair mineral analysis. I had been balancing my minerals for about eight months. I was feeling pretty fatigued but at that time when I signed up for the gym I'd had about six weeks of feeling pretty good.

I was like, "Oh, I feel pretty good." I love exercise. I love going to the gym. I love all these things. I was like, "Okay, I'm going to do this gym program." At the time, I was super copper toxic, I was kind of unaware of it at the time. I kind of knew it was there based on the practitioner I was working with but it was hidden at that point. My body was at the point where it just wasn't strong enough to dump that copper.

Now I started doing the program at Cody's gym, Maverick Strength, I'm always giving shout outs to Maverick Strength. It's a fantastic gym if you live in the Kootenay area. You know, I just wasn't quite ready for that exercise and I started doing the program and I was okay at first but then I progressively started feeling worse.

I was kind of ignoring it because I was just like ... I really wanted it. I really wanted to be there. I really wanted to get fit. I wanted to lose some weight. I wanted to feel strong. I hadn't felt strong in like seven years because I was so depleted.

When I did that really intense exercise I was feeling that exhausted feeling afterwards and what was happening in my body, with what I confirmed with mineral testing, was I started dumping copper, I started ... Actually that probably is what stimulated my body to detox copper and that's what I saw when I tested my minerals a couple of months later. Copper through the fucking roof. It was off the charts. I had started dumping it. When you start dumping copper you typically feel like shit.

Unfortunately, at the time, the practitioner I was working with wasn't very helpful and I went through something called copper dump syndrome, which is horrible. I never recommend going through that. I didn't really get any strategies to reduce it.

I started getting horrible insomnia, I started getting crazy fatigue, I was super anxious, super panicky, I was up all night every night. I actually had to quit Maverick, the gym.

That was really hard for me. I remember crying about it and being super upset. My boyfriend Ryan was just like, "Oh my God. Stop crying." I was so disheartened, I was so frustrated because I wanted it so bad but clearly my body just wasn't ready for it. I had to really back off.

Last winter, because this was about a year ago when I was going through that copper dump cycle, it was really rough. I had a really rough time. I didn't do a lot of skiing. I couldn't do a lot of exercise in general because I was just so exhausted. It's because my body was dumping that copper.

Fast forward. It's over a year. It's about a year and a half later. I've been back at Maverick since January. I feel great. I've been doing the group workouts. Cody, I've even done the conditioning a couple of times. You'd be super proud of me. I feel fine. My recovery level is good.

Now I still don't push it. I don't do ... I'm super off-topic now. I've gone down a total rabbit hole but I've got to roll with it now that I've gone down it.

The workouts start with a warmup. There's a strength training component and then it finishes with the conditioning, which is more like the high intensity cardio type of stuff. I usually skip that. I usually have been doing the warmup, the group warmup, the group strength training component, and then I skip the conditioning.

A couple of times I do it when I feel strong, when I had a really good sleep the night before, and my energy levels are good. A lot of times I still skip it. Even though I have dumped the copper, even though I'm strong, I feel good, I'm in a much better place, I still have to be cautious.

With me, while I love going to the gym, it's not my priority. My priority is mountain biking, it's climbing, it's being out in the mountains, which requires a lot of energy. I really do need to micro-manage what I give my energy to so that's really important for me.

I'm totally off on a tangent right now about my own experience but I want to give you guys some actionable tips. By explaining my experience I'm just hoping that you understand that, yeah, you do have to be really mindful and I've actually done this several times. When I first got into functional nutrition I remember being taught by Reid Davis that ... He's like, "You can't go back to intense exercise too quickly because you will make yourself take steps back."

I did this twice with Crossfit, where actually Cody was also my trainer I believe. I was kind of feeling better. I was like, "Ooh, I'm good. I'm good." But I totally got ahead of myself, signed up for Crossfit, six weeks in, total crash. Had to stop doing all exercise and went into another four month super exhausted fatigue cycle. I did that another time and then I did it a third time at Maverick.

You know, I need to follow my own advice. I had to experience it for myself. Just be really aware. After you do a workout you should feel good, you should feel energized, you should have good recovery time. You shouldn't be sore for weeks. You shouldn't be totally wiped out. You should sleep good that night ... Like if you stop sleeping that is a sign that that exercise is too much.

I totally get it. Jamie says, "I miss working out so much. I thought yoga would be a good choice but it still wipes me out." Yeah. You know, Jamie, you might do good with a gentle yoga or a light strength training program. I definitely love the more gentle yoga. I know yin can be super boring. I'm actually going to a yin class tonight. I hate it but I know it's good for me.

Yeah. Yeah. Jamie relates to me. It's so hard not to go but you just have to remember that exercise is a stress and that's what it all comes back to is the fact that exercise is a stressor and if we're layering stress on top of stress on top of stress we are not doing ourselves any good.

This is probably the hardest thing about recovery. I coach so many people who are like, "I just miss exercising" or, "I feel like I've lost a piece of myself." That's definitely how I felt. I felt like I'd lost a piece of my personality.

Let's talk about some of the things you should be doing prior to exercise. Of course, remember today when I talk about exercise I'm talking about the exercise at a certain intensity. The type that you feel the next day that makes you feel a bit sore, the type that kind of pushes your muscles to exhaustion, to the point where you're like, "I couldn't do another lunge" or, "I can barely do this downward dog because I've done so many and I'm so tired" or you're sweating a bunch.

Prior to exercise I think a really important thing is to structure your meals so you're not eating within two hours before exercise. When you exercise you actually end up with increased permeability in the gut. There's a little bit of leaky gut action that happens.

Now if you eat a meal within that two hours you might end up with a lot of gastric discomfort, like stomach discomfort, stomach pain, indigestion, bloating. That kind of leaky gut action does happen. That's normal. You do want to make sure you're not eating a big meal or any meal at all prior to exercise.

Now if you're doing an exercise at 5:30 A.M. you're probably going to have to eat something but keep it light. Just because if you have food in your stomach and you're getting an increased permeability some of those food particles, food chemicals, might be ending up in your blood and they might be causing some GI issues, some GI distress.

I do recommend not eating two hours prior to exercise but if you do want a bit of fuel, if you want a bit of pre-exercise fuel something I've found works really well for me and this was actually recommended by Ben Greenfield, who is someone that I follow, I really love, if you're into super nerdy exercise science and biohacking he has a really great podcast.

He says to do some essential amino acids prior to your workout to give you a bit of that energy boost to feed your muscles. Not branch chain amino acids. You want to do the essential.

Now Thorn Research has some. Those are the ones that I use. I typically actually prior to a workout I'll eat like a gut support. I love the mega [inaudible 00:20:47] from Micro Biome Labs. They're awesome so I usually do that with the essential amino acids prior so I'm getting that gut support plus the amino acids. That actually gives me quite a bit of energy during my workout.

The other thing is you do actually want to make sure you hydrate prior to your workout. A lot of people will hydrate after or during but you actually want to spend a bit of time hydrating at least 500 mls to 1000 mls, so about half a liter to a liter of water prior to your workout.

I try to heavily sea salt that water because that is going to give you minerals. When you're sweating during a workout and you're getting all of that crazy white stuff on your shirt that is actually the sweat. Those electrolytes, those electrolytes being lost.

I always like to tell people drink their sea salt water before and after. Now if you've never done sea salt in your water before start slow, start with a pinch. If you do too much you might just give yourself diarrhea unfortunately or you might give yourself some gastric distress. Start with a pinch. You may also not like the way it tastes. I love it now. I love my salty water. But start with a pinch and roll from there.

Then it's really important as well during exercise to hydrate or even have an electrolyte replacer. Sometimes I just drink my sea salt water. I'll put a bit of honey in there, a bit of lemon. You can actually make your own energy drink. I definitely don't recommend Gatorade.

If you need something with a little extra bang coconut water is actually really fantastic. It's a really great electrolyte drink. I think it's super superior to Gatorade or any of those crap synthetic drinks or any of those electrolyte replacements. Just buy a coconut water. Really, really awesome.

Then typically after exercise you also want to replenish your electrolytes as well because this is the biggest issue with exercise for a lot of people. A lot of us are mineral deficient, especially in sodium and potassium. 80% of people have low sodium and low potassium.

Cody says, "Awesome tips" so I'm feeling a little less self-conscious now. Most people have low sodium, low potassium, and that's a big reason why they feel bottomed out with exercise because they don't have the sodium levels to actually maintain that exercise.

When they do that exercise their sodium will go up and they get that temporary high where they're doing it and they're like, "I feel good. I feel good. I feel good" and then afterwards they just don't have the sodium levels in their body to maintain that, sodium crashes, and that's why they feel like a pile of dog poop after a workout. I really do recommend the coconut water during and after the exercise.

The other product I really love is 40,000 Volts from Trace Minerals Research. It's a really fantastic electrolyte replacement formula that I recommend to all the athletes that I work with. Typically, my athletes ... I work with one of the top kettlebell athletes in the world. She's fantastic. I get her drinking a teaspoon of the Trace Minerals Research 40,000 Volts before and after her workout.

Now you do have to build up to that. It is a salt solution. It will make you shit your pants if you do too much at once. It does have a higher dose of magnesium so some people don't tolerate it well so always start slow like you should with anything. Remember my disclaimer, I'm not a medical doctor and you should always be checking with your doctor or your pharmacist before implementing any new supplement program.

I love doing that afterwards. Really, really fantastic. The same goes if you're doing sauna therapy, guys. If you're doing any longer sauna therapy it actually doubles as a cardiovascular workout. You get a lot of the same metabolic effects from going in a sauna as you do doing exercise.

Treat the sauna like exercise. You should be hydrating before, during, and after. Having your coconut water and even doing your 40,000 Volts, especially if you're doing a longer sauna session. If you're in there for 30 minutes sweating your balls off then you definitely want to replace that.

Then after a workout there's a few things you can do in terms of exercise. Now this comes from Ben Greenfield recommendations again. He used to say ... He was talking a lot about this insulin effect that you get right after a workout and that's where you should be eating this higher carbohydrate meal is directly after a workout.

I can't remember what he said. I really should have gone back and reread the transcript for that episode. He actually recommends that you do your higher carbohydrate meal about two hours after your workout. He doesn't think that you actually need to do it right after a workout.

Typically, what you want to do is you want to not eat about two hours prior to exercise. The meal that you do have that day before that exercise should be a lower carb meal. Go with high fat, high protein. Stay away from the sugars, stay away from the carbs, and save your higher carbs for two hours after that exercise session.

A higher carb could be potatoes, root vegetables, maybe it's a little bit of white rice depending on the type of diet that you're eating. Typically, that's when I'll have my sweet potato and I'll have my potatoes is two hours after I do a higher intensity workout.

The other thing you should do and maybe this is obvious but I definitely am terrible for this is to stretch. Very, very important to stretch your muscles after exercise. I was at the osteopath the other day and she was like, "Girl, you need to stretch." I'm like, "I know. I've known this for years and I still have such a hard time doing it."

Make sure you spend about 20 minutes stretching after a workout. Make sure you have that meal, you replenish your muscle stores, and that you're hydrating as well.

Then the other thing you can do if you guys have a little bit more money to invest is do some red light therapy or sauna. Sauna is really fantastic but I love the red light. Red Rush does one that I really love and Joovv is the one that I have.

It's just a high powered, red light so it falls right next to near infrared on the light spectrum but it has a really, really nice not only mitochondrial enhancing effect but it has a really nice effect for muscle recovery. It's also fantastic for injuries. I always lend it out to all my friends when they have sports injuries. You know, we live in a mountain town. People are always messing up their bodies. I lend that light out quite a bit but I use it a lot on my knee, I use it on any muscle soreness I have.

If I actually do go to Maverick and do the conditioning I use the red light on those muscles that are sore and I swear to God it helps with muscle recovery. It's a really, really awesome thing.

Okay. I'm going to hop into the comments now. I'll see if you guys have questions. I know there was some earlier ones. Lisa says, "Me too. I get nauseated and I just want to nap after exercising. Looking forward to hearing this." Awesome.

Alicia says she also misses working out, "I used to feel pretty energized but my muscles don't recover well." Yeah. Alicia I believe you were looking into a red light. That would definitely be good for you.

Angela says, "Thanks for reminding me I need to get off my butt more often." Yeah. We all do. I need to get off my butt right now. Then Alicia says, "We worked with a trainer who told us there was no reason to stretch." Yeah, I think stretching is important, right? I mean, you notice that effect instantly, right? I feel like you're so tight you go to a yoga class, you do a stretch, and you're like, "Oh, I feel so much better."

Guys, let me know if you have questions. I'll give you guys a few minutes because I know there's a bit of delay between when I see the comments but thanks so much for joining me today. I hope this was helpful. Those are typically the things that I do during, before, and after exercise.

You know, I think the hardest thing about this conversation is just realizing when you need to slow down, when you need to reduce something, and just remember that you can still benefit from movement even if it's not like you going balls to the wall, crushing yourself, like maybe you want to do.

It's been a tough lesson for me. I do have to be mindful. I have to be aware of when I didn't have a good sleep the night before. If I didn't have a good sleep the night before I'm not doing the conditioning, I'm probably not going for a super intense ride. I'm probably keeping it light.

Lisa asks, "Walking is good then?" Yes, walking is actually a really great natural form of exercise. I think when you're struggling, when you're in burnout, when you're exhausted, walking is fantastic. You know, you do want to push through every now and then because it is really important to raise your heart rate. If you're really struggling then that might have to be really quick.

When I was really sick and I just didn't have the juice to do any exercise I was going on long walks and then I would do literally a five minute Tabata workout or a five minute HIIT workout, high intensity interval training. Just enough to get my heart rate up and then I would chill. It is good to at least have that sometimes but you do want to be mindful. If you're totally burnout, if you're totally exhausted, if you're really stressed out, it might be a better day to go do a yoga class than to go to Crossfit.

All right. Jamie says, "I can't wait to walk outside. Thank goodness. Walking weather is almost here." Yeah, Jamie lives in Winnipeg and she's been posting screenshots all winter of her weather forecast. It was like minus 50 in Winnipeg, which is shocking. I'm like, "I'm glad I don't live in Winnipeg."

All right, guys. Thanks so much for hanging out with me today. Remember, guys, this goes out as a podcast every single Thursday so subscribe to the High End Energy Podcast if you want to listen to me or you can hang out with me live on the live show every Tuesday at 4 P.M. with the exception of today because I have an appointment. This also goes to YouTube so you can also hang out with me on YouTube as well.

Thanks so much, guys. Love you as always. I will be talking to you next Tuesday at 4 P.M. Pacific.