I love to exercise, but for a long time, I didn’t think it loved me. I get into a new workout, and I don’t stop. Until I get sick. It’s a pattern. I’ll get into a workout routine for weeks. Then one day, I’ll wake up with the worst cold of my life. Once I’m down with a cold, my exercise routine is gone. I have a hard time starting again.
For a while, I wondered if I should exercise at all, but then I started reading about overexercising. It can happen to anyone, even the most obnoxious fitness enthusiast. I started looking for signs of overexercising. Some of the signs confirmed my suspicions. Others would’ve never occurred to me if I didn’t know what to look for.
Signs you’re overtraining
If any of these signs sound like you, it’s time to take a step back and think about your workout routine.
When’s the last time you had your period?
For women, one of the signs of overtraining is not getting a period. I’m not talking about occasionally skipping your period one month because your body wants to mess with you. I’m talking about going months without having one.
This sign is one of the more extreme symptoms in women. If this sounds like you, then you need to stop reading this article and set up a doctor's appointment. Then come back and read the rest of the article. I'll gladly wait until you talked to your doctor before you finish this article.
You’re fatigued after your workout
I had a bad habit of working out until I felt tired. Then, I’d spend the rest of my day exhausted. I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep, but I couldn’t.
Exercise does help you sleep better, yes. But you shouldn’t have to overwork yourself to get to that point. If you’re pacing yourself, your body should get there naturally.
Wearing yourself out isn’t going to help you get fit faster. Nor will it help you lose weight. Instead, you could be setting yourself up for insomnia. And insomnia, while fatigued, is not a fun combo.
And yes, insomnia is another sign of overexercising.
You’re getting sick a lot
Weight training is one of my favorite forms of exercise. But when I do it, I have to be careful. I’m prone to overdoing it, and I’m sick two weeks later.
Overdoing your exercise routine can weaken your immune system, making you more prone to colds. If you’re fatigued continuously from your workout, you're more likely to get sick. Your body needs the energy to function. When you overwork yourself, you take more energy to fix your muscles. Some of that energy could’ve gone to your immune system.
If this sounds like you, rest. You’re not doing yourself any favors by working through your colds.
You’re losing weight, but you’re gaining fat
People exercise for various reasons. One of the most popular motivations is to lose weight. I, myself, got caught up in working out for long hours to try to lose weight fast.
However, I wasn’t doing myself any favors. Sure, the weight loss was there, but if you start noticing more fat on your body, you need to slow down. When you over-stress your body, it releases more cortisol, a stress-related hormone. Your muscle mass could start shrinking because you’re not giving yourself enough time to rest.
You’re not as strong as you used to be
One of the reasons exercise is so fun is because you can see how far your body can go when you train. It’s fun seeing your gains and getting stronger with every workout. Overdoing it seems like you’d get better results faster, but you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
Eventually, you’re going to notice yourself getting weaker during your workout sessions. Every time you try to work out, you get worse and worse and risk injury.
If weaker performances isn’t a glaring sign you should slow down, slower recovery times should be. At that point, your body is screaming at you to rest.
Exercise is supposed to be fun. When you’re finished working out at a good time, your body releases endorphins, making you feel good. A healthy amount of exercise makes you excited to workout.
Exercising too much can show up in your mood. You could find yourself unmotivated or losing interest in exercise. Disinterest is another sign of depression, too. Mood swings, depression, and anxiety are all signs of overdoing your exercise. All of these hormones can show up after too much training.
In a sense, exercise is a double-edged sword. The right workout time gives you endorphins, but the wrong amount makes you skittish and moody.
Your eating habits change
Exercise causes small tears in the muscles to build them up, hence why some people get soreness after a workout. It takes water to break down your muscles. Naturally, you need water after a workout. But if you’re always thirsty long after the workout, you need to re-evaluate your workout routine.
Some people find their appetites decrease as they workout. Reduced eating can tie into depression and mood swings too. It’s a borderline dangerous sign of overtraining.
Let me be clear. It’s one thing if you’re trying to eat less. That doesn’t mean you’re depressed. If you’re working out but purposely not refueling your body, that’s a problem. Your body needs fuel from your meals to build muscles and repair your body. If you’re not eating while you workout, your body isn’t getting the nutrients, it needs to properly do its job.
What to do if you’re overworking yourself
If you realize you’re overworking yourself, you don’t need to stop working out. If you’re caught early enough, you can fix yourself.
Before you cancel your gym membership, consider doing one of these things first.
- Rest. When you’re going through all of the signs mentioned above, you need to rest more. Your body needs proper rest for it to work correctly. Whether that means sleeping for a full eight hours or taking an entire day off, you need to rest.
- Cut back on your workout routine. Contrary to popular belief, people don’t need to spend the whole day exercising. Depending on your activity level, you shouldn’t need to exercise for more than half an hour a day. Give yourself days off, too. Your body will thank you for the rest.
- Eat, drink, and sleep. Your body needs food, water, and sleep to get the time it needs to repair the muscles in your body.
- Take a day off if you need it. You’re not a bad person if you physically or mentally can’t exercise one day. Working while you’re sick isn’t healthy for you. Stress won’t make you feel good about your workout, either. You’re human. Take a day off.
You don’t need to overexert yourself to stay healthy. Most people don’t need more than thirty minutes of moderate exercise to stay healthy.
Overexercising can be dangerous
Exercise is fun, but too much of it is slightly less dangerous than spending all day watching TV. Extreme over-exercise can lead to serious injury, lack of periods in women, and addiction.
Luckily, once you know the signs of overtraining, you can step back and figure out a backup plan. However, if you feel like you can’t control when you exercise or still have symptoms after two weeks, you need to call a doctor. Overexercise can be a sign of a more severe issue in your mental health. Knowing the signs can stop you from developing an addiction or compulsive behavior.
Exercise is a fun way to get active while staying healthy. If you’re not overdoing it, you’ll come out feeling good about your progress. It’s fun to see how far you can push your body without overexerting yourself.
Like anything, it’s easy to get addicted to exercise, and you could end up with some scary side-effects.
If you’re aware of what to look for, you can take the steps you need to rest your body. Overexertion will give you harmful side-effects that could keep you away from exercise for a while.
It’s okay to take a day or two to rest. You won’t push yourself backward by resting. You’ll be doing what your body needs.
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