By: Tan Sher Lynn
You should certainly be proud of yourself if regular exercise is a part of your life but did you know that your exercise routine can easily turn into too much of a good thing? While most people suffer from lack of exercise, it is also easy to over exercise (by doing it too frequently or too intensively), especially if you are just starting out and eager to make quick progress.
It is both physically and mentally dangerous when you over exercise. Excessive exercise can damage bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and even your heart. When muscle soreness or minor injuries are not allowed to heal, they often result in long-term damage.
Psychologically, exercise addicts are often plagued by anxiety and depression. Women who exercise compulsively increase their risk of premature bone loss (osteoporosis). They may disrupt their hormonal balance, which leads to irregular periods or they may even find that their period cycles have stopped altogether.
Health Risks due to Over Exercise
- Muscle soreness and cramps
- Damage to tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage and joints
- Heart problems
- Sleep problems
- Low libido
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of muscle mass
- Irritability and depression
- Hormone imbalance
Signs That You’re Exercising Too Much
These are some of the ways your body tells you that it’s time to get off that treadmill:
- You feel exhausted instead of energised after exercising.
Your body releases a variety of hormones during exercise which boost your mood and energy, making workout a pleasurable activity. However, if you find yourself recurrently tired and exhausted after a workout, you are doing more than your body can cope with.
- You feel moody
Pushing your body over its limits causes a variety of adverse effects including dehydration, muscle fatigue and low blood sugar. Each of these contributes to a less-than positive feeling after exercise. Besides, over exercising depletes many of your body’s nutrients. You may end up feeling highly anxious, irritable and negative.
- You get sick easily
Research shows that athletes exercising at a high intensity for 90 minutes or more experience a steep drop in immune function that can last up to 24 hours. This dive in immunity appears to be caused by the elevation of stress hormones released during and following heavy exertion. Over time, this can lead to a suppressed immune system, frequent colds and infections and a longer recovery time.
- You get insomnia
Exercising too much causes your body to be overloaded with adrenalin and endorphins which keep you awake and make the brain so active it wakes itself up in the middle of the night.
- Your performance decreases
Your muscles need time to repair themselves after a workout. When you are over exercising, you are not giving your muscles the necessary time to recuperate and regenerate. As a result they grow weaker, leading to decreased performance.
If you recognise signs of over exercising, it’s important to make immediate adjustments before you wind up sick or injured. Here are some good ideas:
- Rest and recover – Stop exercising and allow yourself a few days of rest.
- Eat and drink well – Get plenty of fluids and alter your diet to immune boosting, energy inducing foods if necessary.
- Get a massage – Study suggests that post-exercise massage decreases inflammation and could enhance muscle growth as well as help you to relax.
- Change your exercise regime – Different types of exercise work different muscle groups and can prevent overstrain.
- Tone it down – Reduce the time and intensity of a workout and alternate a day of workout with a day of rest.
Exercise should be combined with a good diet and plenty of recovery time between sessions in order to reap maximum benefits over the long run. Your body needs at least one to two rest days per week, and if you are at a burnout stage, you may even need a few weeks to a month.
No matter what your exercise goals are, just remember that in order to achieve long term success, there’s no such thing as a quick fix!