Yes, there can be too much of a good thing; it’s important to know when to lay off the exercise.
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For most of the world, getting motivated to exercise, or get “enough exercise” is one of life's greatest challenges. However, there are a small percentage of people (often the type that spends their online surfing time reading fitness blogs like this one!), that actually might struggle with the opposite of this: some of us exercise too much.
Yes, exercise can actually become an addiction. Most of society is so trained to believe that exercise is a great thing (and it is), and that more is better. But I'm telling you, like all things in life, too much of a good thing, is simply not good.
This is a very personal article for me, because it is something I have always struggled with myself. My entire life I have loved to be active, to sweat, to get that endorphin high you can only match with a good hard workout, but I am very aware that I walk a fine line. I can easily get carried away, trying to squeeze in more time, harder intervals, the list goes on, but bottom line, I don't always know when to give my body a break. Correction: I do technically “know,” (due to my training and my profession), and yet I still struggle with establishing the right balance between healthy, moderate exercise, and pounding it into the pavement much too hard without adequate recovery, and suffering a host of consequences, ranging from mild to severe.
I think about this a lot. It’s a strange phenomenon: once exercise is in your blood, in your regular routine, you simply feel “off” when you skip it. I become moody and irritable when I don't get my daily sweat session, and that's a good thing if it gives you motivation to keep up with a consistent and balanced routine (key word: balance). The problem occurs when you lose the “balance” part of the equation and your workouts start consuming too much of your time, interfering with your daily life, and/or your body is not adequately recovering, and you simply don't know how to take a break.
If you are reading this and relating to any of what I'm talking about, or if you are feeling burned out, tired and lacking motivation, check out my list below of some of the not-so obvious signs that you may be over-exercising. And please, don't overlook or deny the facts: deep down you may know it's time to take action to slow down. It will not be easy, it will require willpower, and the discipline (yes, discipline) to ease off, but it is crucial to long-term success and happiness.
Your body needs at least 1-2 rest days per week, and if you are at a burnout stage, you may need a few weeks to a month to just chill out. I promise that taking a little time off will not reverse all your hard work. It will not make you an overweight blob. If anything, it will re-energize you and make you more excited (and balanced) when you are ready to pick it back up again - I am constantly reminding myself of that too - it helps!
Here are 7 Serious Signs of Over-Exercising:
1. Your workout leaves you exhausted versus energized. If you finish your workout feeling like you need a nap, rather than feeling revitalized and ready to conquer the next thing, you are likely pushing yourself too hard or too long, and it may be time to assess and scale back those workouts.
2. You are unexplainably irritable and moody. If small things are setting you off, and you can't figure out why your fuse is short or your moods are so funky, this could be a sign that your body is worn down and fatigued. Your body may be screaming for a vacation from exercise, so take one!
3. You’re sleeping too much or can't sleep. Are you restless and unable to sleep through the night no matter how tired you feel? OR, does it not matter how much sleep you get you STILL feel tired? Both of these can be caused by overtraining. When you exercise too much, your body can interpret it as a stressor, sending out stress hormones like cortisol that makes sleeping difficult. On the flip side, overtraining can actually make some people more tired than normal. Sleep is the time when the body and brain repairs itself, so if you’re pushing it too hard, your body might be telling you that it needs more rest that you’re giving it.
4. You have ”heavy” legs. Rather than walking or jogging with ease, your legs feel like dead weights. Heavy, tired and overly fatigued legs (or arms) can be caused by muscles that just haven’t had enough time to fully recharge and repair.
5. You get sick frequently or can't seem to recover. When you over-exercise you break your body and immune system down, so you are more susceptible to getting sick, or it takes you longer to recover.
6. You feel sore for days at a time. Rather than bouncing back from a tough workout, if your body is constantly aching or sore it’s a warning that you need to step back and allow it to repair itself.
7. You feel unmotivated and/or “blue.” It seems ironic since exercise has been shown to boost feel-good endorphins, but overtraining has been linked to a decrease in energy and mood, so you need to relax and restore.
As I stated above, many people don't push themselves hard enough. Others (and I am guilty of this myself sometimes), tend to “overdo it” or have trouble taking a break from exercise. If you are like me, I encourage you to check yourself and take these signs seriously. If you are affected by any of them, re-assess your workout routine and your life. At the end of the day, life is too short to go through it fatigued, moody, and exhausted. And life is definitely too short to spend all of your life in the gym!
My goal is to achieve the perfect balance of happy living and fit living, I am so passionate about this, I have made it my career, in fact all of my workouts on AmandaRussell TV are based on this goal. They are short, highly effective, intense workouts that can be done anywhere! In order to live your best life you must strive for that “perfect balance” where you keep yourself challenged and fit, while also allowing adequate recovery.
So, the next time, you feel deep down that you should take a rest day, or your body is acting out, listen to it. Exercise your mind and your intuition, and you will become stronger and better for it.