Exercising is an important part of life, and it’s done wonders for my health, self-esteem and well-being. However, it has taken me a lot of learning to know how to exercise smart, rather than simply to exercise hard and often.
While most of us have trouble getting motivated to do any workout at all, for a select few — myself included — the opposite problem rings true, and they find they have trouble even taking a rest day.
Everyone I know has always emphasized the benefits of working out, so I decided to give the gym a try. I was prepared for the fatigue and sweat, but one particular girl’s zeal was unbelievable. She always bragged about how she ran 10 miles every day, no matter what.
The bragging was annoying, to be sure, but her fit body seemed to justify it. It gave me a different perspective of working out, and I soon craved intense exercise, almost every day of the week. I was not exactly running 10 miles every day, but my friends and family took note, and were concerned that I was overdoing it. I was puzzled; since when has working out been unhealthy? Is it possible to exercise too much?
Are You An Exercise Addict?
To many people, addiction is something that’s limited to vices like drugs and alcohol. However, nearly any pleasurable activity can become an addictive and all-consuming habit, including coffee, sex, social networking, and yes, exercising.
So, how do you know if you’re addicted to exercising? Look out for these signs:
- You never skip a workout — even if you’re tired or sick.
- Anything that gets between you and your sweat sessions sparks intense anger.
- Your entire schedule is based around your fitness regime.
- Your self-esteem plummets when you miss a session or have a “bad workout.”
If this sounds like you or anyone you know, read on.
Symptoms Of Exercising Too Much
Exercising too much can have detrimental effects on your health. Don’t let the following signs go unnoticed:
- You feel exhausted after exercising, instead of energized
- Your body is extremely sore for days afterwards.
Your immune system is weakened, so you’re constantly sick.
- You have trouble sleeping.
- You’re moody or depressed.
- If you’re a woman, you’re periods are irregular or have stopped.
What Does It Mean In The Long Run?
Exercising beyond your limits comes with some serious consequences. They include:
Strain without proper rest will eventually lead to injuries, especially for specific body parts that take the brunt of your workouts (for example, knees if you’re a squatter or shins if you’re a runner). Stress fractures are common, especially among people who do not take the appropriate time to rest between workouts.
Overtraining takes its toll on the body. Unwanted and extreme weight loss, fatigue, lightheadness and irritability are telltale signs.
The heart pumps five times more blood when exercising than when at rest. This puts a strain on your heart and critical arteries, and if pushed to the extreme, it may leave complications such as scarring and irregular heartbeat.
The main goal of exercising is to stay fit and healthy. Ironically, overdoing it leaves our muslces in a far worse state. Your muscles need rest in order to build back bigger and stronger, and without this rest, they may actually lose mass and begin to wither. This is especially true if you’re training the exact same muscle groups every single day.
You may fit the profile, but there’s no need to worry. For starters, the effects of overtaining take years to have a noticeable toll. As such, it is never too late to salvage the situation.
The answer, of course, is to exercise smarter and achieve a healthy balance. smart exercising is achieving an ideal balance. There’s no need to give up on your beloved workouts altogether, but there are some things you can do to ensure you’re not overtraining.
Everything In Moderation
Moderate exercise is defined as 150 minutes per week. That may not be enough for the avid gym goer, which is totally fine. Five to six hours a week can be appropriate as well, so long as you’re switching up your training and taking the appropriate time to rest certain muscle groups.
- Have a definite training schedule with a varying training load and mandatory rest phases.
- Focus on interval trainings, where short bursts of high-intensity training are complemented with gentle recovery periods.
- Round out your exercise program with just two, intense strength-training routines to optimize health benefits of working out.
- Do not neglect stretching to boost the muscles’ elasticity and improve blood circulation.
- Mix up the routines for well-rounded fitness; if you’re doing an intense weight-lifting workout one day, go for a more gentle yoga session the next.
Remember, exercising is all about feeling your best, not physical perfection. Adopt different routines that target all your muscle groups and incorporate cardio and stretching, and limit them to one hour or 1.5-hour sessions, four to five times a week at the very max. Finally, remember the former you, who didn’t mind skipping a workout to catch up with an old friend or have dinner with a loved one.
There’s more to life than being in great shape. Get your body fit and healthy, so it can go out and enjoy everything life has to offer.