My prescription for using physical activity to end exhaustion is to practice restorative exercise and restorative yoga.

Restorative exercise resembles interval training where you have short bursts of intense exertion followed by rest and recovery, but it’s less aggressive. In standard interval training, the higher-intensity levels last from 2 to 5 minutes and are followed by lower-intensity periods of an equal time. I believe this is a bit too strenuous for those who are exhausted and really need to train their bodies to recover.

The idea is to begin by performing high intensity exercise for 1 minute, followed by 3 to 4 minutes of rest or low intensity exercise. These bouts of higher and lower intensity are repeated several times to form a complete workout.

For example, spend thirty minutes alternating between walking briskly for a minute and walking at a relatively relaxed pace for three minutes. As you feel better, you can increase your high intensity levels from 1 minute to 2 minutes and decrease your rest periods from 3 to 4 minutes to 2 to 3 minutes and so on.

This kind of exertion alternating with rest periods triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to activate the relaxation response. Instead of stressing our bodies with movement, we are actually using movement to relax it! And the more we train our bodies to relax and recover from stress, the more it will begin to relax automatically, switching off the harmful chemical cascade triggered by stress.

And, restorative exercise burns more calories – by increasing intensity for short bursts at a time, you’ll up your metabolism and burn more calories than if you worked at a steady pace.


No matter what kind of shape you are in, I recommend beginning your restorative exercise with walking. If you have been over-exercising, you need to slow down. And if you have not been exercising, walking is the appropriate way to speed up.

Walking is one of the most primal movement patterns. When we walk, we coordinate the movement of our arms, legs and torso. Hundreds of calorie-burning muscles come into play – not only the muscles you’d expect, such as leg and arm muscles, but also internal muscles like the psoas. The psoas is one of the body’s major core muscles that gets shortened by sitting (can cause knee and hip pain) and lengthened and strengthened by the movement of walking.

A daily walk burns calories, increases metabolic activity, helps improve postural imbalances and massages your internal organs. It also strengthens the abdominal walls and improves your breathing. Moreover, walking outside on uneven terrain is even better for you. It stimulates different movement patterns, improving balance and coordination. Maybe there’s a nature trail near your house with a choice of walking loops of varying distances.

Of all the exercise options available to you, the combination of restorative yoga with restorative walking is a serious fatigue fighting formula. If you’re generally in good shape, you can incorporate short bursts of jogging into these brisk walks. Walk or jog briskly for a minute, then slow down for three.

While walking is the ideal mode of exercise for recovering from exhaustion, if you don’t like walking or it is physically impossible for you, you can also do restorative exercise while swimming or using a recumbent bike or an elliptical trainer. Just follow the same exercise pattern as suggested for the walking, alternating between brisk and normal periods of exertion.

Finally, let me offer you a few tips which may all seem like common sense to you, but because it is common sense, I believe it is worth saying:

Consistency is essential for recovery. Practicing restorative exercise needs to become a habit, something you can’t live without, like sleep. Make the time and do it.

Don’t exercise after 8:00 PM. At a late hour, exercise will interfere with your ability to fall asleep. I believe that for many people, afternoon exercise helps restore rhythms best, but, for most of us, it’s more convenient to exercise in the morning. Since you’re more likely to give up on a program if the timing is inconvenient, opt for morning exercise if it makes it easier to stick with your program.

We are trying to get you feeling less exhausted not more exhausted. It is important to remember that if you feel tired after moving or are so winded that you cannot talk, you have pushed your body too far. Don’t stop or give up, just cut back a little and build up again more slowly.

There are more tips on Restorative Yoga in the Daily Living Section, in the Stress Management tab. There are also Restorative Yoga poses in Cleanse. Please try them all. You can’t go wrong – they’re Restorative, it’s impossible to overdo it.