The Best Exercises for When You Have Low Energy

Best exercises when you have low energy

Verywell / Jiaqi Zhou

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Your fitness goals can sometimes get derailed by low energy. If you wake up tired or life's challenges leave you exhausted, your body can't perform physical activity at the level you prefer. One way to combat this lethargy is by performing exercises that don’t require high energy. This is preferable to staying sedentary and risking your already low energy falling even lower.

Although you might feel frustrated when unable to knock out a solid sweat session, low-intensity exercise does offer health benefits, such as the following:

Low-Intensity Exercises

When you can’t muster the energy for a moderate- or high-intensity workout, these simple activities can keep you moving and stir up your energy level:


Workout: Walk for 30 minutes at a pace of 2.0 to 2.9 miles per hour

As one of the most popular forms of exercise, walking requires no equipment other than a comfortable pair of walking shoes, and you can do it almost anywhere—helpful for when energy is low and you don’t want to make any extra effort to work out. 

Walking can transform your low energy level as this exercise boosts vitality by releasing hormones similar to endorphins in the body. You also won’t exert excessive strain on joints if you stick to walking at a normal pace (around 2.5 miles per hour), such as you would with higher impact sports,


Workout: 30-minute vinyasa routine with four poses: plank; knees, chest, and chin; cobra; and downward-facing dog

Yoga is often studied for its ability to induce a balanced mental state and improve sleep quality. When your energy is low, performing a simple yoga routine can help provide
such therapeutic effects.

Vinyasa yoga is a flow routine in which poses tend to move from one to another, rather than one pose at a time with a rest in between. Poses in vinyasa are typically sun salutations, known to boost energy level because they increase your resting metabolic rate, according to a study from the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine.

To begin a simple vinyasa yoga routine when energy is low, try these beginner poses in this order:

  • Plank: To start the plank position, jump to the back of your mat and lie face down with your forearms and toes on the floor. Lift up your chest, legs, and torso while driving your feet and hands into the mat. Keep your shoulders over your wrists and hips straight with your shoulders. Hold for up to 30 seconds and then lower.
  • Knees, Chest, and Chin: As you breathe out, lower your knees, chest, and chin to your mat. Keep your glutes up in the air and your elbows straight along your side. Breathe in and out for 30 seconds.
  • Cobra: To get into the cobra pose, slide forward on the mat and lower your hips to the floor. Raise your chest toward the sky with as much strength as you can, pushing from your back (not into your hands). Anchor your pelvis and the top of your feet to the mat.
  • Downward Facing Dog: To begin downward-facing dog, breathe out, jump to the back of your mat, and push your feet into the mat as you straighten your arms and lift your hips up. In this pose, your hands should be shoulder-width apart and your toes curled under you as you straighten your arms. Keep your spine long; press your sitting bones towards the sky and heels toward the floor.

Tai Chi

Workout: 30- to 45-minutes of Tai Chi movements

Tai Chi is a low-impact exercise in which you perform slow movements named after animal
actions or martial arts moves (such as White Crane Flashes Its Wings), and is a perfect workout alternative when energy is low.

As you move through a Tai Chi workout, you use deep breaths in and out, focusing on your body sensations. The movements are circular; they don’t extend or bend joints and they use relaxed muscles rather than tightened ones like you would in more high-intensity workouts.

To begin a Tai Chi workout, warm up with shoulder circles, rocking back and forth to loosen your muscles. Then move into short-form Tai Chi, these are smaller, slower movements and good for beginners.

Light Swimming and Walking in a Pool

Workout: Swim two lengths of the pool to warm up. Walk the length of the pool for 10 minutes. Swim for 10 minutes. Cooldown by swimming two slow lengths of the pool.  

Swimming can improve mood and mental health in both men and women, and people report enjoying water-based exercise more than exercising on land. Also, when your energy is low, you might not able to last long when working out. But in water, you can often exercise longer than on land without any extra effort on your joints or muscles.

For safe swimming, the CDC recommends that you shower before you get in the water—even if for only one minute to rinse your body. This removes any dirt on your body, which allows the chlorine to kill germs instead (a better use for it). When open water swimming, look for cloudy water, which could indicate more germs are in the water than normal. If this is the case, you might want to switch to a chlorinated pool.

Rowing Machine

Workout: 30 minutes at 22 strokes per minute

Rowing is an excellent low-impact activity that doesn't put extra stress on your joints. You
can also control your pace, energy level, and output.

According to a study from the Journal of Human Kinetics, you can row even with low energy. Researchers found that trained rowers could maintain a 2,000-meter rowing performance following three high-load training sessions throughout a three-day period. These rowers suffered muscle damage, soreness, and significant loss of strength and power, but could still row because of how low impact the exercise was on any joints. 

Workout Tips When You Have Low Energy

Try to Sing

You can measure intensity using the talk test, says the American Heart Association. To stay at a low-intensity, you should be able to talk or sing while exercising.

Measure Your Heart Rate

Low-intensity and low-impact activity get you to about 40 to 50 percent of your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate, you can subtract from 220 from your age. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 – 50 years = 170 beats per minute (bpm).


Your low energy could be linked to inadequate hydration, according to a study from the journal Sleep. Researchers found that adults who slept only six hours had a worse hydration status than adults who slept the recommended eight hours. So, be sure to drink water and get eight hours of sleep to prevent low energy levels.

Try 30 Minutes of Steady-State Exercise

In a study on high-intensity interval training versus steady-state training of 30 minutes, researchers found that 30 minutes of steady-state exercise can provide an enjoyable workout and still allow for increases in VO2max ( the number that describes your cardiorespiratory fitness).

Use the Rate of Perceived Exertion

The CDC says that the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) measures your physical activity
intensity level. You can use this RPE when exercising with low energy by paying attention to your physical sensations, such as your heart and breathing rate, how much you’re sweating, and if you experience any muscle fatigue. Then on a scale of 6 to 20, rank yourself on your perceived exertion. For low-intensity workouts, you should score between eight and 11. 

A Word from Verywell

Some days you lack energy due to any number of reasons: lack of sleep, extra stress in your life, or you hit your workout extra hard a day or two before. Although a low energy level can feel frustrating, this is normal and you need to listen to your body by taking it easy on your workout. If your energy remains low for a long period of time, consider speaking with a health care professional.








13 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, CPT
Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, is a certified personal trainer, freelance writer, and author of "Growth Mindset for Athletes, Coaches and Trainers."