Exercise burnout, if left unattended, can have debilitating side effects. Read on to discover if this phenomenon is impacting your workout, and if it is, the steps you can take to combat it.
What is Exercise Burnout?
Do you often feel exhausted after a workout? Do you ever step on the treadmill with the intention of going for a nice, long run only to have your body shutdown? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be suffering from exercise burnout.
The Cause for this Phenomenon
So, what is the cause of exercise burnout or over training? The short answer is that your body needs time to adjust to increased physical demands. This is especially true if your body is not used to the added physical demands you are placing on it. Why would anyone do that? Usually there's a looming deadline of some sort (an upcoming wedding or party) that facilitates this type of overtraining. Other causes may have their roots in emotional or psychological issues, like not feeling as if you measure up, or suffering from an eating disorder.
Know the Warning Signs
Knowing the warning signs of exercise burnout can go a long way in helping you recognize if this phenomenon is affecting your performance. Some of the physical and emotional signs of over training include:
- Decreased performance: This usually means that you feel unable to go as far as you used to or that you can't go as fast as you'd like.
- Loss of coordination: It may sound scary, and if you're on a fast moving machine, it can be even scarier. If your feet or hands are not cooperating, then exercise burn out may be to blame.
- Prolonged recovery: When you do have an injury, does it seem to take a long time for you to recover (beyond the accepted recovery time)?
- Elevated morning heart rate: Having an elevated morning heart rate is a surprising side effect of overtraining.
- Headaches: Take note if you're having frequent headaches.
- Loss of appetite: While it may sound counter-intuitive, a sustained loss of appetite may be reason for concern.
- Chronic muscle soreness: When you train, you expect to sustain a reasonable amount of muscle soreness the day after, but the key to this symptom is the word "chronic". You should not have chronic soreness. In fact, if anything, your workouts should feel easier as you progress.
- Reduced self-esteem: This is more of an emotional response to exercise burnout, but if you are over training, you may expect unrealistic results, like dropping three or four pounds a week. From there, your self-esteem may suffer as thoughts like "I'm doing everything right, so why isn't this working?" arise.
Easy Solutions to Follow
The solution to exercise burnout can neatly be summed up with one word: moderation. Wait until your body gives you the go-ahead, and then gradually increase the intensity/duration of the exercise. Keep in mind too that moderation is "relative" to your overall fitness level and goals, so comparing yourself to others will surely lead you down the garden path. Here are some other practical steps you can take to sidestep the pitfalls of over training:
- Don't overdo it: Begin a new routine slowly, for example, exercise for about twenty minutes and build on that.
- Try working out at home: Not only will you avoid any excuses not to work out (you don't have to travel anywhere!), but with no one around, you'll find it difficult to compare yourself to others.
- Know the signals: Loss of appetite, lack of progression, extreme injuries or recurring injuries can all indicate causes for concern.
- Change it up: First, make minor adjustments to your routine every four weeks. Second, completely change your routine every eight to twelve weeks. Third? Don't do the exact same workout every session. Aim to accomplish two to three different workouts per week. This should help to keep boredom at bay.
- A final step: Try to do something completely different and unique every few months, like hiking or rock climbing.