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The Risks of Over Training: Listen to Your Aching Body, it's Telling You Something!

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Bones & Joints related image Photo: Getty Images

As a semi-serious athlete, I suppose I could be accused on occasion of over-training. In the past 20 years, I have probably missed about five days of working out. I am either seriously dedicated or, as my doctor has delicately phrased it, “a drug addict,” addicted to the endorphins and related “runner’s high.” He’s right. I am. Even when my body is begging me to take a day off, I still get out there and train. I would make a horrible coach. After all, everyone needs to take a day off from exercising every now and again. I’ve been told that when you do take a day of rest, your workout the following day is enhanced. Maybe one of these days, when I am brave enough to forgo a day of running, I will discover that joy!

When you over train and work out excessively, you may think you are doing your body a favor by giving it the physical exercise it needs, but your efforts can be counter-productive. Your sleep can become disrupted. Your immune system can crash. You may even lose your appetite.

And it’s not just hard-core athletes who are at risk. Those who run for fun and recreation are equally at risk, when you factor in all of the other grinding demands of life – work, chores, errands, and family. When you are stressed, tired, and overworked, recovering from rigorous exercise is infinitely more challenging.

There are a few indicators that will alert you to take a deserved day off. (And perhaps the author of this article will take note!)

If your body weight drops from yesterday to today, indicating a loss of fluid, you probably did not hydrate sufficiently and are therefore at risk of compromising the quality of your next workout.

If your resting heart rate is elevated, that is a sign of stress. Check your pulse when you first awaken in the morning to discover your normal rate. If you notice that your heart rate is higher than it normally has been, you probably need a day of rest.

Do you toss and turn at night? Over-training can inhibit a good night’s rest. If you sleep poorly for several nights in a row, you will decrease your reaction time, and compromise your immune system, your motor skills, and your cognitive functions.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.