Are you over exercising. We all know that one person who spends hours a day at the gym and rarely takes any days off. In a way, I understand them. I hate feeling like a slug when I sit around at home all day. I love being active and I try to workout as much as I can. The difference is, working out too much versus being active just enough.
I would definitely say that my family was an active one, although we weren’t what I would call a sports family. Growing up, exercise was simply a part of our day. We’d spend a lot of time walking and our vacations always centered around going to a cottage where we’d fish, hike, row, swim or we’d travel to new and exciting cities where we’d do a lot of urban hiking. Either way, we were always on the move. During the school year, my sister and I would be enrolled in after school classes so we were always busy with something. It didn’t matter that I hated gym and wasn’t very good at organized sports. I’m still not, but I’m fit. I have realized, however, that with a more sedentary lifestyle I do need to make time during my week to get to a gym or to take a class.
Now, admittedly, I have had to taper my workouts due to my thyroid (there are some days when I just can’t) but on the whole, I hate going a few days without getting my butt in gear. When I was still actively working as a trainer, I used to see a lot of people who were obsessed with working out. With the exception of a couple of individuals, no one was doing it to be a better athlete. It was mostly to be thinner or to look better. While I’m 100% behind working out and I think everyone should absolutely be doing it, I also feel that it is possible to workout too much and that can be just as bad as not working out enough.
ARE YOU OVER EXERCISING
HOW DO YOU KNOW? You might be thinking that this is a waste of time and that there’s really no such thing as working out too much. No pain, no gain, right? Well if you find that
- your legs are always feeling sluggish or heavy
- your muscles are always sore
- you are often sleepy during the day or having trouble falling asleep
- you get sick often despite your healthy lifestyle
then these could all be signs of over exercising.
WHAT CAN IT DO?
- Working out too hard and too often can be tough on your body, in particular on your muscles and bones. When you exercise and build muscle, you get microscopic tears in your muscles and bones. Without adequate rest they don’t have a chance to heal, thus increasing your chances of injury.
- If you are consistently over training, your likelihood of burnout increases, which means that you can wind up undoing all of your progress.
- When you over exercise, your body is constantly focusing on muscle recovery rather than building your immune system and you’ll find that you are getting sick more often and for longer.
WHAT TO DO ON REST DAYS?
A day off doesn’t necessarily mean that you should sit on the couch all day. You can still move, just try to stick to low or no impact exercises (read BEST LOW IMPACT EXERCISES). Yoga, Pilates or simply spending a few minutes stretching will go a long way to helping your muscles recover and to prepare you for your next training session.
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Keep in mind that over-exercising is very individual. For some, it could be 4 hours a day and for others it might be more or less. A lot of it depends on your fitness levels. If you are starting a fitness regime, it’s always best to start slow and build up to give your body the time it needs to get accustomed to a new routine.