If you’re someone who has a hard time taking a rest day, you may think differently after reading this. While I respect your commitment, skipping your recovery is doing more harm than you think; I tell my classes and clients this all the time. Recovery is the forgotten training variable and overtraining affects our bodies in multiple ways. In fact, there is a name for it now called “overtraining syndrome” and the effects can be both physiological and psychological.
Pete McCall, exercise physiologist and adjunct faculty member in Exercise Science at Mesa College, is well-versed in this area and speaks around the world on the topic. “We have to get rid of the type of thinking that if a little is good, a lot must be better. Exercise is physical stress applied to the body. Too much stress to the muscles, tissues, ligaments without any time off results in damage, inflammation and a host of other problems.” McCall gave us a list of what happens to your body when you don’t take time to recover from intense exercise:
You become depressed: Overtraining leads to self-critical thinking: Do you ever say to yourself, “I’m training my butt off but I’m getting worse not better!” Your energy goes down, your performance goes down and you fall into an emotional psychological downward spiral. YIKES!
You are crabby: Let’s face it, when you are in a constant state of pain and soreness, you are irritable. Your threshold for mental stress is decreased.
Related: 5 Signs You’re Exercising Too Much
Your endocrine system fatigues: When you constantly do high intensity exercise, you go into adrenal fatigue and your body starts over producing cortisol, exactly the opposite of what you want to happen. Exercise reduces cortisol until you overdo it. Too much high intensity exercise with no rest produces too much of that darn cortisol, otherwise known as the fat storing hormone.
Your sleep will suffer: You may be physically tired but can’t fall asleep because your body is over-stressed. Growth hormone is responsible for helping to repair our muscle tissue and is produced in the deep REM cycle of sleep; if you are not getting good quality sleep, your muscles aren’t getting a chance to fully repair.
Your immune system is compromised: Can’t shake that cold? Maybe it’s because you are going too hard and your immune system can take several days to recover just like your muscles.
You get injured: This is a no-brainer problem from overtraining. Overuse of the muscles, tendons and ligaments creates a constant state of inflammation in the body and the joints. The likelihood of injury is increased. And if you aren’t fueling properly after your workouts, you may be losing muscle mass not gaining.
So next time you pat yourself on the back for never missing a day of intense exercise, take a chill pill and give yourself a day off!
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