Whether we’re trying to feel better, get stronger, or lose weight, exercise is one of the best things we can do to continually improve our health. Physically challenging ourselves is how we build muscle and increase our strength. But when we over exercise, our bodies break down.
Since most of the signs are subtle, we may not realize we’re overdoing it until it’s too late. Symptoms of over exercising, or overtraining, are usually very mild at first. By tuning in and listening to your body, you’ll have a better chance at a full recovery.
Chronic muscle soreness or frequent injuries
After a good workout, you may experience sore muscles. It should subside, but if the pain sticks around, it may be a sign that you’re exercising too much or what doctors call overreaching. Overreaching doesn’t just cause pain. It can also cause your muscles or joints to be red and swollen. If you notice these symptoms, it may be time to take a break from your workouts. In addition to rest, massage has proven effective in muscle recovery.
Increased anxiety or depression
Sometimes we exercise to ease our anxiety or depression. The release of endorphins helps to boost our moods. But if we overdo it, we may plunge into depression. Sometimes skipping exercise or a restricted workout can manifest feelings of depression and anxiety. Other times, overreaching paired with another stressor causes depression. If you experience increased anxiety or depression, take time off from intense workouts and seek help from a doctor.
Frequent headaches may be caused by your workout. Primary headaches occur during or immediately after workouts. Secondary headaches have the same symptoms as a primary headache but also include vomiting, double vision, and loss of consciousness. If you experience headaches during or after a workout, it’s important to see your doctor. You may also want to avoid exercising in hot and humid weather and higher altitudes to see if that makes a difference.
Out of all the signs of over exercising, this one is the hardest to determine. Did you sleep well? Did you drink enough water? Is stress dragging you down? But when you don’t allow your body to rest from a workout, your body can feel achy and exhausted. If you’re consistently burning more energy than you bring in, you’re pulling calories from reserves. This can make you feel fatigued. When you suspect that your body hasn’t fully recovered from a workout session, you should take a few days off to see if rest is the remedy.
Coughing or wheezing
Exercise-induced asthma occurs when our airways narrow, triggered by an intense workout. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, chest pain or tightness, and shortness of breath. When you experience these symptoms, you may be able to continue to exercise; however, you need to take precautions.
Weakened immune system
If you’ve noticed you’re getting sick more often than usual, it might be linked to an intense workout regimen. When you over exercise, the physical and mental stress placed on the body can be too intense. Oxidative stress and inflammation increase, while the immune system is weakened.
Usually, when you exercise, it can help you sleep better. Many people with sleep issues are advised to take up an exercise regimen. But sometimes exercise can have the opposite effect. Because over exercising can overproduce stress hormones, such as cortisol, it’s important to take breaks. If your workout routine keeps you up at night, you won’t have the stamina to perform everyday activities. If you experience a disruption in your sleep pattern, make sure you evaluate your workout routine and take a step back if it’s become too intense.
If we start feeling irritated, it may be a sign to back off from an intense exercise routine. When we work out too much, it can create an imbalance in our hormones, specifically cortisol and epinephrine. This can cause us to become irritable and lose concentration.
Disrupted menstrual cycle
When you’ve been overtraining, your menstrual cycle may be a little different than you’re used to. A disruption in your period can be a symptom of medical complications caused by over exercising. In fact, even moderate exercise can affect the length of your cycle. If you’ve increased the intensity of your exercise routine and have started experiencing a menstrual cycle disruption, it may be a sign that you need to take a step back.
Loss of appetite
If you’re trying to lose weight, your goal is to burn more calories than you take in. This leads to hunger. It makes sense that since your body is losing fuel, you’ll crave more calories. The sheer exhaustion of overtraining syndrome, which happens when you exercise too much, may lead to a lack of appetite though. It’s important to feel hungry, and eat healthy foods, to sustain your normal energy levels.