With the arrival of 2011, many of us will make a “get into better shape” New Year’s resolution. Most of us, will then use exercise to attain our fitness and weight loss goals. While exercise can have a very positive impact on our lives, there are risks, and you really can get too much of a good thing.
Overtraining syndrome is a condition consisting of various symptoms that occur as a result of exercise without appropriate recovery. Excessive fatigue is the primary symptom, but you may also see decreases in physical performance, mood alterations, and frequent illness/injury. These symptoms can last for months if signs of overtraining are not identified early. Some early signs and symptoms that can indicate overtraining are:
• Decreased quality of sleep • Increased fatigue • Increased stress
• Persistent muscle soreness • Being easily agitated • Decreased performance
If you noticing these signs, you may be overtraining, and need to make adjustments. But what should you change?
While you may need to decrease the duration and/or the intensity of your exercise program, in many cases the exercise itself is not the problem. You need to remember, that what you do in your recovery period (i.e. the time between exercise sessions), is as important as anything you do while exercising. The main components of quality recovery are:
• Proper post workout routine: proper cool-down period post exercise – with stretching of the muscle groups that were used in your exercise session
• Adequate hydration: Drink plenty of water both while exercising, and between exercise sessions
• Good diet: Healthy, well balanced meals
• Quality sleep: appropriate sleep length (7-8 hours) that leaves you feeling refreshed
By moderating duration and intensity (if required) – and integrating quality recovery into your exercise routine, you can avoid the development of overtraining symptoms.
It is important to realize that the benefits of exercise greatly outweigh the risks. By maintaining a reasonable balance between exercise and recovery, you are more likely to avoid the risks. That will get you the benefits you are looking for, and as they say… “add years to your life, and life to your years”.