It is quite common for people to become overzealous with their exercise regimen. The endorphins, adrenalin and serotonin released during exercise can be addictive to the point that individuals seek to exercise at all costs rather than listen to their bodies when they need a rest. Now this chapter is not referring to the exerciser who is just doing the recommended amount of exercise for health (e.g. walking for thirty minutes most days per week) but more so for those individuals who are pushing their bodies to the limit in order to achieve a new level of fitness, a particular health goal, or is competing in a sporting event.
It is important to recognise when you might be overtraining to avoid long-term consequences that can come from over-exercising. This of course does not mean that exercise should be limited indefinitely or to put you off exercising completely, but rather a call to heed your body’s warning signs that a rest day might be needed or when training intensity needs to be reduced for a period of time to allow your body to recover completely. This is particularly important for those whose vocation is sport – such as competitive athletes – but equally applicable to the rest of us who participate in sport and exercise as a way to keep physically fit.
Why Is Rest from Training So Important?
Rest days from training are critical for a variety of reasons. Some are physiological and some are psychological. In particular rest from training allows:
- Muscles to repair, rebuild and strengthen.
- The body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.
- The body to remove the chemicals that build up as a result of cell activity during exercise such as lactic acid.
- Brain chemicals to replenish that are depleted during exercise such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.
- A better balance between home, work and fitness goals to be achieved.
If we do not allow our bodies to recover from exercise and training we can develop the alarm signs and symptoms of overtraining as explained below.
Alarm Signs & Symptoms That You Are Overtraining
If you are experiencing any of the below signs and symptoms you may be suffering from overtraining. They include:
- Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
- Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
- Pain in muscles and joints
- Sudden drop in performance
- Decreased immunity (increased number of colds and sore throats)
- Decrease in training capacity/intensity
- Moodiness and irritability
- Loss of enthusiasm for exercise or sport
- Decreased appetite
- Increased incidence of injuries
How a Diagnosis of Overtraining is made
Along with the above signs and symptoms you may be able to detect overtraining by tracking your heart rate with something called the orthostatic heart rate test. This test was developed by Heikki Rusko who used it while working with cross country skiers.
To obtain this measurement:
- Lie down and rest comfortably for 10 minutes at same time each day (morning is best).
- At the end of 10 minutes record your heart rate in beats per minute.
Then stand up
- After 15 seconds, take a second heart rate measurement in beats per minute.
- After 90 seconds, take a third heart rate measurement in beats per minute.
- After 120 seconds, take a fourth heart rate measurement in beats per minute.
If you are well rested you will show a consistent heart rate between measurements, but Rusko found a marked increase (10 beats/minutes or more) in the 120–secondpost- standing measurement of those on the verge of overtraining. Such a change may indicate that you have not recovered from a previous workout, are fatigued or stressed, and it may be helpful to reduce training or rest another day before performing another workout.
A training log that includes a note about how your feel each day can help you notice downward trends and decreased enthusiasm. It is important to listen to your body signals and rest when you feel tired.
You can also ask those around you if they think you are exercising too much. Although a very subjective measure, it is often interesting to hear what those closest to you think about your training frequency.
#healthyhabits #healthyliver #hormonehealth
Dr Cris Beer
Holistic Medical Doctor