Once we get started with exercising or weight training, it can sometimes be hard to stop. We feel the reward with the rush of feel-good chemicals post-workout. The sense of achievement when lifting a heavier weight, performing more reps or beating our best jogging time is hard to beat. We then wish to repeat the experience. That’s both good and bad.
In some ways, too much exercise can be a negative just like not exercising is. Overtraining is a real thing that affects your body by over-stressing it, causing repeated injuries, and sometimes leading to a sort of addition to exercise itself. For people aiming to lose weight, it can end up with them being underweight because they cannot reduce their exercise duration when they’ve already achieved their target weight.
In case you’re not sure if you’re overtraining, here are four signs to look out for.
1. You Exercise Every Time You Feel Stressed
Running off a poor day isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless it becomes an automatic response. In the same way that picking up a cigarette or reaching for that first cold beer on a weekday evening can be your thing – it’s a coping mechanism. There are different ways to handle stress in your life. This article from VitaMonk has some pointers with other approaches to handle stress besides exercise.
When you’ve already exercised the day before, then moderate levels of exercise are better. Dial back regular exercise to a sensible weekly routine. If you still want to get out and exercise on a rest day, walk instead of jog. Don’t use a stopwatch either – make it a leisurely walk for pleasure, not one to work up a sweat and burn off more pounds.
2. Too Thirsty? You Could Be Over-training
While it’s common to need to drink water as a way to replenish yourself after working out, when you’re chronically thirsty, this is a good indicator that you’re overdoing it.
When overtraining leads to a catabolic state, your body has switched to using muscle for fuel. Should this happen, muscle is used as a protein source. Because of this health situation, more water is needed because catabolic states create dehydration naturally and this triggers your thirst. So, how thirsty are you and how often?
3. Are You Feeling Low?
It’s common that depressed people cannot get out of bed and don’t exercise. However, sometimes the opposite is true. It’s a personal thing. While exercising can provide some goal setting and goal achievement, it doesn’t directly affect other issues in your life. If it’s providing a temporary band-aid on your troubles, then that won’t last. It creates a yo-yo effect of being upbeat after exercise and then coming crashing back down to reality later in the day.
It’s also possible that body image problems are present where you never feel slim or athletic or good enough. This can lead to obsessively exercising and dieting to achieve the body beautiful that will probably never come. This is called body dysmorphic disorder and must be addressed through a physician because it’s unhealthy and can be dangerous.
4. Painful Joints and Muscles That Never Ceases
When you start exercising, it’s natural to get sore muscles, joints or feet the next day. Indeed, when deciding to beat a personal best or increase your reps even when you’re not a beginner, it can cause new discomfort as your body is pushed harder than before.
However, it’s not normal to feel discomfort all the time due to exercise. In between stress points where you’re pushing harder, your body should become adjusted to physical exercise (with the exception of weight training, which usually always involved some muscle discomfort).
If you’re feeling tired and in pain most of the time following exercise, you could be doing too much.
Check whether you’re overtraining and need to slow down. Alternatively, you can give yourself a few days to rest your body if you’re fatigued.