With most adults in the United States failing to meet the minimal physical activity guidelines, it’s hard to believe that there are actually people who are exercising too much or to extremes. With the rise of many different high intensity training protocols, gyms, and programs, this does happen all too often and can have negative consequences.
I’ve written about the hazards of exercising too much or at too high of an intensity in the past but failed to discuss the signs and symptoms that are commonly associated. It’s important to listen to your body. Exercise can become a stressor causing negative symptoms so it’s vital to proceed carefully and even seek out professional help if you are following a training plan of some kind. Our nervous system, along with our endocrine and musculoskeletal systems, can easily become negatively impacted with serious outcomes if we are not careful.
If you have been exercising at high volumes or high intensities, review the list below to see if you may be experiencing symptoms that are associated with stress from exercise.
- Poor exercise performance: Not feeling well while exercising, not performing well, regressing on gains previously made.
- Altered sleep patterns: Can’t fall asleep, waking up, sleeping more than normal, sleeping less than normal.
- Altered appetite patterns: Not feeling hungry, eating all the time, food just doesn’t “sound good”.
- Frequent infections: Upper respiratory infections, sinus infections, getting “colds” more often.
- Persistent feelings of fatigue: Feeling tired all day, every day even when getting adequate sleep.
- Altered immune system function: Not being able to fight off illnesses, illnesses lasting much longer than normal.
- Altered reproductive system function: Menstrual changes in females, decreased libido.
- Acute or chronic systemic inflammation: Changes in heart rate, altered blood glucose levels, increased breathing rate, altered body temperature.
- Mood disturbances: Anger, depression, anxiety.
- Loss of interest in training
Adequate rest and recovery are extremely important in order to prevent overuse injuries and overtraining as well as to improve performance. Nutrition is also key to maintaining good health and aiding in recovery too. Lastly, developing a basic periodized training plan may be necessary to vary your training volume and intensity throughout the months/year so as to continue to make gains without over stressing your body.