It’s a no-brainer that exercise is good for the body. We hear it all the time, whether it’s from the doctor or the latest fitness magazine. The perks and benefits are crystal clear! Weight management is just the beginning, and we can’t forget about stress relief, regular sleep, and flexibility. Top it off with a lower risk of chronic disease and it seems like exercise can do no wrong. The more, the better, right? Not always.
Sometimes, a hardcore fitness routine can be as unhealthy as not having one at all. And while it’s great to have the motivation, it’s possible to overdo it – and it can really hurt you.
How Much Is Too Much?
There’s a fine line between “too much” and “just enough.” For each person, it’ll depend on the individual’s fitness level and physical health. Athletes will obviously be able to handle it better than the average exerciser. Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, learn about what happens if you’re overtraining. It’s one of the smartest things you can do for your overall health.
Signs You’re Pushing It Too Far
1. Constant Stress
Exercise should melt away the stress, not bring it on. However, overdoing it actually increases the levels of cortisol, the infamous stress hormone. Even just a single bout of high-intensity exercise can make cortisol skyrocket. As you can imagine, repeatedly doing this will do a number on the body.1 2
2. Frequent Exhaustion
Another popular benefit of exercise is higher energy levels. But when you’re always breaking a sweat, the body will run out of fuel! Overtraining is also linked to sleep difficulties, so getting enough rest will be hard. Some researchers associate cortisol accumulation to frequent yawning.3 4
3. Inability To Focus
Fatigue doesn’t just affect your brain. It also clouds up your brain, making it difficult to concentrate on daily tasks. Also known as cognitive fatigue, this side effect of overtraining is also caused by high cortisol levels. Attention and memory will also take a hit, making school or work feel harder than usual.5
4. Lack Of Appetite
A healthy dose of physical activity burns energy. It’s the reason behind “hangriness” after exercise, emphasizing the importance of post-recovery meals. Interestingly, overtraining has the opposite effect. According to the Journal of Sports Health, overly exercising increases pro-inflammatory proteins that hinder appetite. A drop in ghrelin, the hunger hormone, might also be to blame.6 7
5. Constant Thirst
If you’re constantly working hard, eventually, there will be no sweat to sweat! This happens when the body retains fluid in an attempt to maintain fluid balance. During exercise, you may have little to no perspiration and feel excessively thirsty.8
6. Hormonal Issues
Ladies, does Aunt Flo owe you a visit? Overtraining decreases the luteinizing hormone, which then reduces estrogen. Without enough, menstruation can’t go on as usual. Men, on the other hand, will experience low testosterone and an inability to increase muscle mass.9
7. Constantly Falling Sick
Physical activity is known for giving your immune system a boost. But since exercise increases oxidative stress, too much is bad news. Moreover, exercising to the point of exhaustion suppresses lymphocytes, leading to an impaired immune system and vulnerability to infection.10
Did this list have you nodding in agreement? Give your body enough rest. Remember, moderation is always important, even with the good things in life.
|↑1||O’Connor, Patrick J., William P. Morgan, John S. Raglin, Charles M. Barksdale, and Ned H. Kalin. “Mood state and salivary cortisol levels following overtraining in female swimmers.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 14, no. 4 (1989): 303-310.|
|↑2||Hill, E. E., E. Zack, C. Battaglini, M. Viru, A. Viru, and A. C. Hackney. “Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: the intensity threshold effect.” Journal of endocrinological investigation 31, no. 7 (2008): 587-591.|
|↑3||Fry, R. W., J. R. Grove, A. R. Morton, P. M. Zeroni, S. Gaudieri, and D. Keast. “Psychological and immunological correlates of acute overtraining.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 28, no. 4 (1994): 241-246.|
|↑4||Thompson, Simon BN. “Born to yawn? Cortisol linked to yawning: a new hypothesis.” Medical hypotheses 77, no. 5 (2011): 861-862.|
|↑5||Klaassen, Elissa B., Renate HM de Groot, Elisabeth AT Evers, Nancy A. Nicolson, Dick J. Veltman, and Jelle Jolles. “Cortisol and induced cognitive fatigue: effects on memory activation in healthy males.” Biological psychology 94, no. 1 (2013): 167-174.|
|↑6||Kreher, Jeffrey B., and Jennifer B. Schwartz. “Overtraining syndrome: a practical guide.” Sports health 4, no. 2 (2012): 128-138.|
|↑7||Oshima, Satomi, Chisato Takehata, Ikuko Sasahara, Eunjae Lee, Takao Akama, and Motoko Taguchi. “Changes in Stress and Appetite Responses in Male Power-Trained Athletes during Intensive Training Camp.” Nutrients 9, no. 8 (2017): 912.|
|↑8, ↑9||Johnson, Mary Black, and Steven M. Thiese. “A review of overtraining syndrome—recognizing the signs and symptoms.” Journal of athletic training 27, no. 4 (1992): 352.|
|↑10||Fitzgerald, L. “Overtraining increases the susceptibility to infection.” International journal of sports medicine 12, no. S 1 (1991): S5-S8.|