We live in an exercise-obsessed world. From boutique gyms, to at-home classes, to endless free programs on social media and Youtube, there’s no shortage of ways to move your body. And while this variety is helpful for some, it can cause addictiveness in others. If you find yourself slaving away at the gym, pushing yourself to high endurance levels on your Peloton, or sleeping fewer than seven hours to get your workout in, it’s time to reevaluate your approach. The irony is this: you may not think you’re doing enough—or working hard enough—because you aren’t reaching your health goals. In turn, you push yourself harder. Been there, done that. But over-exercising is a slippery slope. It can quickly work against you, doing more harm than good. Are you exercising too much? We’re diving into signs you’re over-training and how to scale it back.
be intentional with your exercise routine
Of course, having any type of routine is essential. As a whole, routines help us work more efficiently, save money more effectively, mitigate unnecessary stress, and more. There is power in the security and stability of a routine. Plus, a routine makes us feel grounded amidst the chaos of life. All of that said, routines can cause stagnation—or in the case of considering are you exercising too much—routines can cause burn out. Said differently: it’s easy to get stuck doing the same things the same way, over and over again, until we’ve lost our spark. In some cases, we forget why we created a particular routine in the first place. Being intentional is at the root of it all. Rather than considering if your exercise routine is good or bad, approach it with a degree of flexibility, adaptability, and spontaneity.
THE BENEFITS OF SWITCHING UP YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE
From the perspective of being adaptable, switching up your exercise routine is key. Changing your exercise routine allows you to switch your focus, in turn providing new stimulation for your body. For example, if for months you’ve prioritized running, you may find that it’s a good time to switch to an anaerobic exercise routine (muscle growth). Here are a variety of reasons to switch up your workout routine:
- Build new muscles
- Prevent injuries from overusing the same muscles
- Beat workout boredom
- Keep your brain healthy
- Delay reaching a workout plateau
Taking a dynamic, well-rounded approach to movement is remarkably beneficial for your heart health, muscle composition, joint stability, flexibility, balance, and more. Plus, exercise aids in balanced blood sugar and a healthy metabolism. But looking at the bigger picture, over-exercising can wreak havoc on your body.
Compulsive exercise isn’t the answer
Consider the Million Women Study. This looked at over one million women, ages 50-64. At the start of the study, researchers asked the participants how often they did strenuous exercise. Three years later, these women completed a questionnaire, asking how many hours each week they spent on specific exercises. Overall, researchers associated moderate physical activity with a lower risk of various diseases and ailments. However, the women who did strenuous activity, daily, had a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, or a blood clots. Moral of the story: compulsive exercise and over-exercise are not positively correlated to your waistline or overall longevity. Less is more.
Are you exercising too much? 4 signs
You might be overdoing it if you experience these three signs and symptoms:
You’re often tired
A telltale sign of overtraining is feeling chronically fatigued or worn out. If every workout feels like a slog or a struggle, and your performance is either stagnant or getting worse, you’re probably exercising too much. To keep up with your training routine, you must be getting enough rest and sleep. It’s crucial for growing muscle, improving energy, and allowing your muscles to recover.
You’re stressed, moody, and hungry
When you over-exercise and keep cortisol jacked up, you’re breaking down muscle instead of building it. High cortisol can increase your appetite and mess with your thyroid function (in turn, slowing down weight loss). You must be eating enough to replenish your hardworking muscles.
You’re More sick than usual
Too much exercise takes a beating on your immune system. If you notice you’re getting sick more frequently as you’ve ramped up your exercise frequency, you might want to scale back. Plus, over-exercise can accelerate oxidative stress, meaning your body has a harder time managing its defense system. Support your immune system by working out smarter, not harder.
Your Menstrual Cycle is Absent
When I was over-exercising, I wasn’t eating enough to sustain my strenuous movement. In turn, I lost my menstrual cycle. I was never formally diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea, but I had all the signs and symptoms. Due to overexercising and under-eating, I didn’t have enough body fat to sustain my menstrual cycle. For many women, having a naturally occurring cycle is significantly correlated to exercise. Having a normal cycle is an indicator that the amount (and intensity) of your exercise routine isn’t creating too much stress on your body.
LET’S HEAL YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH EXERCISE
If you think you might be over-exercising, reach out to me. I help my clients find ways to move their bodies in a supportive, balanced way. If exercise is a form of punishment, habitual calorie burn, or a way to morph your body into something it genetically isn’t, etc., let’s work together. We can change this. Having a positive, gentle, and healthy relationship with exercise is key for overall health, fertility, longevity, and more.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.