Too Much Exercise = Too Much Of A Good Thing?
In an ironic twist on the obesity situation that is plaguing this country, doctors are now becoming more aware of another problem that may be construed as too much of a good thing: getting too much exercise.
This may seem hard to imagine, especially in light of the fact that nearly two-thirds of the people in this country is considered overweight, and barely half of U.S. population exercises at least three times a week.
The simple reality is that in order to maintain a healthy body weight, some level of activity is required, but for some individuals, exercise can become an obsession, taking precedence over all other aspects of their lives, even their health. Though it may involve mainly athletes, experts contend that the situation applies to more people than many of us realize. In fact, any person who exercises or works out can take it too far, and as a result, put their health and well-being in jeopardy.
The condition is known as Overtraining Syndrome (OTS), and contrary to what most people believe, rather than leading to better health, it can actually be detrimental. The reason for this is because the body needs time to recover from strenuous exercise. Indeed, the American College of Sports Medicine indicates that rest days are just as important as workout days. When a proper balance between exercise and recovery is achieved, the body adapts and can become stronger. When the balance becomes skewed in favor of exercise, the lack of recovery time can overload and overwhelm our us.
This, in turn, can lead to loss of appetite, insomnia, and fatigue. There are also potential psychological consequences like mood swings, loss of self-esteem, and even depression. These problems may be related to exhaustion or any chemical changes in the body, though experts are not completely clear why this happens.
Whatever be the case, one thing is for certain. Excessive amounts of time spent exercising means that there is less time to attend to other areas of your life, including your leisure and family time. In fact, OTS can literally take over your life, highlighting the need to maintain perspective.
Interestingly enough, people who exercise too much are usually aware of what is going on, yet find ways to justify their actions while ignoring the advice of family and friends. It is only when their bodies begin to falter that they finally get the message, and by that time, the damage is often already done.
Experts recommend keeping an eye out for certain signs that you may be suffering from OTS. They include:
- elevated heart rate first thing in the morning
- heavy legs during workout that don't recover well
- loss of appetite
- increase in lung infections
- nagging injuries that don't heal
If you train seriously and are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may need to take some time to rest. Speak with your doctor or consider hiring an experienced trainer or coach.
While the need to exercise is an important one, it is also vital that you give your body time to rest and recover, especially since it is the only one you have.