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12 Days of Fitness 2011 – Day 11: Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Exercise?

December 22, 2011 0 Comments

download (3)(This is Part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful fitness tips over the holiday season)

‘Tis the season for eating, drinking, and being merry.  ‘Tis also the season when the masses start thinking about beginning an exercise habit.  What would a New Year’s resolution be without exercise?  After all, exercise is a great way to start getting healthy and shedding those unwanted pounds. And if exercise is good for you, more must be better, right? Well, that depends and sometimes in this case, less is more.

In the quest for better health and fitness, it is sometimes difficult to quell one’s enthusiasm and take a break from exercise, despite the fact that all you hear is how much more we need to exercise and how we are not getting enough.  What’s important to understand is that while exercise is good for you, just like anything else it can be done to excess.  The difference being that when exercise becomes counterproductive, it’s almost as bad as doing nothing at all.  The fine line between exercise as a benefit and exercise as a detriment should never be crossed when exercise is approached sensibly and appropriately.  This exercise as a detriment phenomenon is more commonly known as overtraining.

Overtraining was only once thought to be something that only athletes suffered from.  On the contrary, most athletes are well aware of the issue and have coaches and trainers to constantly monitor their progress. Everyday workout enthusiasts however are not aware and/or generally ignore the signs and symptoms of overtraining to the point where it leads to either injury or burnout.

Following are some signs and symptoms of overtraining and as you begin another year of better health and fitness, it is important to your success that you recognize them and do what is necessary to keep your gains on the up and up.

1        Excessive fatigue. Not to be confused with just a lack of sleep; a body that never has a chance to fully recover from a previous workout will continue to feel more and more fatigued.

2        Irritability. Too much exercise and too little rest can wreak havoc on the hormones, causing mood swings and creating an inability to concentrate.

3        Chronically elevated heart rate at rest and during exercise. One of the best physical tell tale signs of overtraining.

4        Loss of appetite. Overtraining can cause an increase in hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine that tend to inhibit appetite.  This is not an effective weight loss solution.

5        Insomnia or restless sleep. During sleep the body has time to rest and repair itself.  An overtrained body, however, is sometimes unable to slow down and completely relax, making it difficult to recover between workouts.

6        Chronic or nagging muscle aches or joint pain. Overused muscles and joints can cause constant aches, which may go unnoticed until the body is given proper rest.

7        More frequent illness and upper respiratory infections. Too much exercise taxes all of the body’s systems and makes it more difficult to ward off infections.

8        Increased perceived effort during normal workouts. Workouts should be challenging, but when they begin to become a burden, it’s time to take a rest.

9        Unexplainable weight loss or gain. Although regular exercise can result in weight loss, any more than 2-3 lbs. a week consistently is not a positive result, especially since the weight loss is more likely due to muscle wasting.

10   Menstrual cycle disturbances. Women who exercise excessively and do not consume enough calories may disrupt their menstrual cycle.  While some may experience irregular periods, others may stop menstruating all together.

Exercise is very good for you and too many are not getting enough.  But remember. More is not always better and sometimes less is more.

 

See you tomorrow for the final day of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

 

About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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