The Side Effects of Excessive Exercise

If you are putting in too many hours at the gym or training too hard for sports, your body may begin to respond negatively. Overtraining syndrome is a common condition among athletes and fitness enthusiasts, one that can manifest itself through a variety of symptoms, both physical and psychological.

Overtraining syndrome is common if you work out too much.
Credit: anilakkus/iStock/GettyImages

Discuss your fitness regimen and over exercising symptoms with your doctor and coach or personal trainer, who can provide professional diagnosis and treatment advice.

Read more: The Dangers of Working Out Too Much

What Is Excessive Exercise?

One person's definition of excessive exercise might differ from another's. However, overtraining syndrome, or burnout, can affect anyone who participates in high-volume training without adequate rest. According to Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, the main sign of this condition is declining physical performance in your sport, despite ongoing or increased amounts of training.

Overexercising Symptoms

If you are excessively exercising, you might notice the negative physical effects first. Over exercising effects on the heart include increased resting heart rate. You might also experience unexplained weight loss and decreased appetite.

Overtraining can cause fatigue, ongoing muscle and joint pain unrelated to a specific injury, difficulty sleeping or not feeling rested when you wake up. You might also find yourself getting sick more often.

Additional Psychological Effects

If you are not feeling your usual excitement for your fitness regimen or sport, or if you do not feel mentally prepared for exercise or competition, you could be experiencing the psychological effects of overtraining syndrome.

You might notice frequent mood swings with increased anger or irritability, or your might notice a lack of enthusiasm you once felt toward your sport.This condition can also cause impaired performance in other areas of your life, such as school or work.

Stress and Hormones

In addition to the aforementioned effects, overtraining can lead to increased stress and hormonal changes. As a result of this condition, your levels of cortisol, or stress hormones, tend to increase. It is possible to experience a decrease in testosterone levels, which can have negative consequences for men and women alike. You may also find yourself suffering from a weakened immune system, which can lead to frequent illness.

Read more: 7 Serious Signs of Over-Exercising

Prevention and Treatment

The best way to help prevent overtraining syndrome is to follow a training schedule that varies your training load and includes mandatory rest phases. Treatment for both the physical and psychological symptoms of overtraining requires attention from medical professionals.

Address your physical symptoms immediately. This might also help improve your psychological symptoms. The first and most vital step for treatment is simply recognizing that you are suffering from the condition. Discuss your concerns with your doctor and coach to ensure a team approach to your treatment.

According to medical specialists at Rady Children's Hospital, the only effective treatment for overtraining syndrome is rest. Whether the rest period last four week or several months depends on the individual. The specialists recommend continuing to participate in low-intensity exercise, but choosing activities unrelated to the sport that led to your burnout.

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