We've all heard that a combination of diet and regular exercise is the best way to lose weight and keep it off long term.
For some of us, common sense dictates that the more you work out--and the higher the intensity--the better. But that's not necessarily true. Even if you've gradually increased the intensity, duration and/or frequency of your workouts, you can still run into problems.
Have you noticed that your workouts suddenly feel harder than before, even though you haven't changed anything? Do you feel like you are losing ground, even though you're working hard? If so, you may be overdoing it.
The cause of overtraining is simple. You're not resting enough to allow your body time to recover, or you're doing the same exercises too much. Here are some common symptoms of overtraining...
Feeling tired, drained, and lacking energy
General body aches or mild muscle soreness
A decrease in performance
Inability to complete workouts
Lack of motivation
Incorporate a variety of activities into your exercise program. Or, if there is one thing you really enjoy, mix up your routine. Add speed or distance, increase the incline, or change your route—all of these variations can improve fitness, prevent injury, and keep your motivation high. Try different kinds of workouts within each week. For example, try an interval walking workout, a long distance walk, and a few “regular” walks at an easier speed and distance.
Don’t do too much, too soon. Some people take the “all-or-none” approach, going from a sedentary lifestyle to exercising for 45 minutes or more, 5-6 days per week. At this rate, exercise doesn’t make you feel good like everyone says it will. You’re tired, your knees hurt, and your muscles are sore. After a week or two, it’s easy to get frustrated and want to give up. Instead, increase your workouts gradually and allow adequate recovery time to reduce these symptoms.
Take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet, and getting adequate sleep. Allow for flexibility in your program. If you’re planning to walk and its 110 degrees outside, think about exercising in water, or at least avoid the heat of the day. If you’re not feeling well, give yourself a break—no guilt allowed. You may end up doing more harm than good by pushing yourself to exercise if you’re getting sick.
Exercise should make you feel refreshed and energized—not exhausted. If it’s causing fatigue, soreness, or a feeling of utter dread, listen to your body! It may be time to make a change.