Guest post by: Stephanie Valentine, Holistic Nutritionist
Our guest blogger Steph loves her workouts and wouldn't miss a week! She schedules them in her calendar and always makes rest a priority.
We all know that exercise is good for you. It's good for everything from weight management to mood elevation to helping you sleep. But did you know that you could be getting too much of a good thing? Overtraining is more common than you might think.
About 20% of athletes who train are overtrained. Generally this applies to long distance training or competition weight training. But this condition can apply to the regular exerciser who just doesn't take a break. Is this you?
Here are some signs that you may be overtraining:
You keep running, but you find that your times are increasing instead of getting faster.
You actually are feeling tired, heavy - you aren't getting the boost of energy that your exercise used to give you.
You are getting more nagging, sore muscles, aches and pains. These aren't going away like they used to in a day or two.
You are getting sick more often - that cold that is going around isn't missing you like it used to.
You are experiencing insomnia or restless sleeps. When you exercise too much your body responds to it as a stressor - stimulating the hormone cortisol. Cortisol and melatonin (the sleep hormone) work in opposing ways so too much cortisol limits the amount of melatonin in your system thereby disturbing your sleep.
Your menstrual cycle is no longer regular (only for women - obviously).
If you fall into this category, don't fear - you don't need to give up your fitness program. You need to make sure you add the component of REST and RECOVERY to your routine. Overtraining syndrome can be eliminated through a sound training program that allows for rest and recovery coupled with good nutrition and hydration. You don't need to stop exercising - just moderate.
So, what to do? You love your workouts and don't want to give it up - here are a couple of suggestions:
Swap one of your runs for a gentle yoga class (pay attention to the word 'gentle').
Instead of your 5th weight session of the week, go for a walk outside.
Make up a weekly workout schedule and try to work out 5 days per week (not 7) so that you have 2 rest days. If you schedule your days off they psychologically be a 'scheduled rest' instead of a day that you skipped your workout.
Try to exercise less than 2 hours at a time. An optimal training regime includes 3 cardio workouts per week (about 45 minutes to an hour) and 2 strength workouts per week*
*If you are training for a triathlon or you are a body builder you may be the exception to this schedule, but prioritize your rest days. For the average person just exercising to be healthy (like myself) these are excellent guidelines.
You want the optimal benefits of exercise - you want to feel great, look great, sleep great! By not over doing it you can achieve this. Sometimes a bit less is more.