Fitness Facts: Are you getting too much exercise?
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
With the start of the new year, many people have committed to more exercise and a healthier lifestyle. But did you know that too much exercise can be dangerous, too? While regular exercise is important for many health-related issues, too much or too strenuous of exercise can be harmful.
To get stronger and faster, you need to push your body. But you also need to rest. Moderate exercise can have more of a long-term benefit than excessive, intense exercise.
Rest is an important part of training. It allows your body to recover for your next workout. When you do not get enough rest, it can lead to poor performance and health problems.
How do I know if I am exercising too much?
Here are a few signs:
- Your performance is down
- You need longer periods of rest
- You always feel exhausted. Exercise should energize you.
- Mood swings or irritability
- Trouble sleeping
- Extreme muscle soreness
- Overuse injuries
- Losing motivation
- Getting more colds: There’s up to a 72-hour window of impaired immunity after intense exercise. This basically means viruses and bacteria might have an easier time infecting the body. And athletes who over-exercised also experienced more upper respiratory tract infections.
- Losing weight
- Feeling anxiety
- Loss of appetite
Working out too much or too vigorously (especially when you are new to an exercise regimen or you increase the intensity of your workout too quickly) can cause such muscle damage that the contents of the muscle fibers are released into your bloodstream, which can result damage your kidneys. This can be a life-threatening condition known as Rhabdomyolysis.
If you have signs such as extreme muscle pain, muscle weakness, trouble moving your arms and legs, dark red or brown urine or decreased urination after exercising, see a health professional immediately.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine:
If you have been exercising a lot and have any of these symptoms, cut back on exercise or rest completely for one or two weeks. Often, this is all it takes to recover.
If you are still tired after one or two weeks of rest, see your health care provider. You may need to keep resting or dial back your workouts for a month or longer. Your provider can help you decide how and when it is safe to start exercising again.
Make sure you:
- Eat enough calories for your level of exercise
- Drink enough water when you exercise
- Get enough sleep (aim for 8 hours, if possible)
- Do not exercise in the extreme heat or cold
- Cut back on exercise when you are sick or under a lot of stress
- Take a full day off every week
You can avoid over-exercising by listening to your body and getting enough rest.
Call a medical professional if you have signs of over-training after 1-2 weeks of rest, have symptoms of guilt or anxiety if you do not exercise, or exercise has been a compulsion.