Exercise is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. Many people find that pairing a nutritious, well-balanced diet with routine exercise is a successful formula for a long and healthy life.
People typically know when to stop eating. In fact, the brain signals when the stomach is full to prevent the body from eating too much. Exercise can be a little trickier, as men and women may be inclined to ignore certain warning signs of overexertion during a workout. The well-known workout motto "no pain, no gain" implies that rewards await those who push through their pain during a workout. However, ignoring signals that the body is being overtrained can have a detrimental effect on both short- and long-term health.
According to the American Council on Exercise®, there is a tipping point in regard to how much exercise the body can take. ACE notes that, when people pass that point, the exercise they engage in can actually do more harm than good. ACE refers to the tipping point as overtraining syndrome, or OTS, which can actually contribute to a reduction in overall fitness and increase a person's risk for injury.
People dealing with OTS may not recognize its symptoms as readily as they would a full stomach. As a result, it can be easier to overtrain than overeat. For instance, people focused on living healthy often know when to call it quits at the dinner table, but might not know when to end a workout. Overtraining can be just as harmful as overeating, and athletes can help themselves by learning to recognize various signs of overtraining.
• Decreased performance: ACE notes that a lack of improved performance, despite an increase in training intensity or volume, is a telltale sign of OTS. Athletes who recognize a decrease in their agility, strength and endurance might be dealing with OTS.
• Increased perceive effort during workouts: OTS can make seemingly effortless workouts seem difficult. An abnormally elevated heart rate during exercise or even throughout the day may indicate OTS.
• Excessive fatigue: Too much training can contribute to fatigue because the body is not being given ample time to recover between workouts.
• Agitation and moodiness: Overtraining can contribute to a hormonal imbalance that affects stress levels, potentially making people more irritable and contributing to moodiness.
• Insomnia or restless sleep: The overproduction of stress hormones that can occur when overtraining can adversely affect a person's ability to get adequate sleep.
Additional signs of overtraining include loss of appetite, chronic or nagging injuries, metabolic imbalances, and stress and/or depression. More information about OTS and how to avoid it is available at www.acefitness.org.