Workout of the Week: Feeling Stressed or Overwhelmed? Take an Easy Day.

Tony Horton encourages airmen to live a healthier lifestyle.
Renowned health and fitness guru Tony Horton spent Oct. 27-28, 2011, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., challenging airmen to live healthier every day. (Kenneth Wright/60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs)

If you’re tired or burned out from travel, working out or just everyday stressors, sometimes exercising is the last thing you want to do. And there are times when pushing through the stress can exacerbate, rather than alleviate, it.

Here is an idea when you are feeling stressed or just overwhelmed with life and/or unmotivated to get into the gym at all.

Try a double mobility day. A few years ago, I created the mobility day that is done in the middle of a five- or six-workout week. This has become a weekly event now and, especially after 40 years old, has helped to provide a recovery day, making Days 5 and 6 of the week a much better training day. Here is how it works: Find a non-impact cardio activity like biking, rowing, elliptical or even swimming. Walking will suffice as well if you prefer a treadmill or getting outside and walking instead. Do this activity for five minutes.

Then get a five-minute stretch or foam-rolling session in immediately after the five-minute cardio. Then repeat the two events five times for a total of 50 minutes.

Non-Impact Mobility Day:

Repeat five times

  • Bike, elliptical, row, etc., five minutes
  • Foam-roll or stretch five minutes

Typically, it is best to do this on a Wednesday or Thursday on Day 3 or 4 of your five- or six-day training week. However, during this time of high stress, loss of motivation and general listlessness, do the mobility days on Day 2 and Day 4 of your training week -- double mobility day.

Then if you still are not feeling well and back to normal by Day 6, either take Day 6 and Day 7 completely off as a recovery/rest day or do a third mobility day on Day 6. Take Day 7 off.

Sometimes the stresses of life make the added challenges of the day seem like burdens. If you lack energy, motivation and are just burned out, try an easy mobility day or take a few days off.

Make sure you are sleeping, eating and hydrating well and getting your electrolytes if profusely sweating during the summer. These essential elements of recovery will go much further than another tough day in the gym. Actively pursuing recovery and maintenance is always a good call, especially as we age and life is more stressful than normal.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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