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Overexercising: Why Too Much Exercise Can Be a Bad Thing

Woman lifting weights and doing cleans in front of a rack

We’ve been told of the numerous benefits of exercising. However, moving too much can be just as harmful as moving too little. 

Too much exercise with insufficient recovery can lead to Overtraining Syndrome (OTS), which puts you at risk of injury and a decrement in fitness levels. 

    What makes overexercising dangerous?

    Man lifting barbells at the gym

    Besides the potential risk of muscle strains and tears, overexercising may lead to more serious medical conditions such as rhabdomyolysis. Also known as rhabdo, it is a serious medical condition whereby muscle tissue breaks down, releasing its proteins and electrolytes into the blood. This can damage the heart and kidneys and might cause permanent disability and even death. 

    While exercise is a preventive factor for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, compulsive exercising can instead exacerbate them, according to this research study published in 2015.  

    Women may also experience a loss of menstrual function, which is also tied to early-onset osteoporosis. Plus, weaker bones also put you at greater risk of fractures and bone-related injuries. 

    Signs of overexercising

    Man stretching after a run in a park

    Whether you are a seasoned athlete or a beginner, the signs of overexercising are telling. With overexercising comes a set of symptoms that include: 

    Prolonged muscles soreness  

    You may be all too familiar with that nasty ache after a hard workout, also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). While it is a common response to exercise, it shouldn’t last more than 3 to 5 days. Fatigue will accumulate in a body that doesn’t have sufficient time to recover, setting you up for performance plateaus and decreased performance. 

    Getting sick more often 

    Physically active people tend to have stronger immune systems, so, if you find yourself falling prey to the common flu all the time, it’s time to re-evaluate your training plan. Overexercising is heavily taxing on the body, making it much more difficult to ward off incoming infections. 

    Increased injuries 

    Overused muscles and joints can cause chronic aches or joint pain. When the body doesn’t have sufficient time to heal, it also puts you at a higher risk of overuse injuries 

    Hitting performance plateaus 

    A plateau can happen for two reasons: either your body has fully adapted to the rigour of your training, or you’re simply over-doing it.  With most people, it’s more likely the latter reason. Hitting a plateau is one of the early signs of overexercising, so you’ll be surprised that just taking a week off training can make a world of difference. 

    Insomnia 

    It sounds conflicting, but insomnia can be caused by excessive fatigue. Too much exercise puts a lot of stress on your body, causing spikes in your cortisol levels. This response puts the body in a ‘high alert’ mode, making it harder to wind down for a good night of sleep 

    Appetite changes 

    A hormone imbalance, caused by overexercising and exacerbated by the inability to have restful sleep, can affect your hunger mechanisms. More training should stimulate appetite, but physiological exhaustion of can suppress it.  

    How to ensure your body recovers properly

    Man stretching on the track before a run

    While overexercising is bad, the good news is that its effects can be reversed. Of course, the first thing you should do is to take a break to let your body fully recover. 

    Schedule regular rest days 

    Ensure you take a rest day every three to five days. The best time to take a rest day can vary from individual to individual. If you dread getting up to go to the gym, it’s a sign that a rest day is due. Trust your gut feeling on this one — it’s your brain telling you that you're not resting enough! 

    Rest doesn’t need to entail sitting on the couch all day. If you’re unable to sit still, you can consider taking a day of active rest instead. 

    Eat enough 

    OTS can be linked to Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S), a syndrome of poor health and declining athletic performance that happens when you don’t eat enough to support the amount of energy being expended. Having too large of an energy deficit can impair your health and take a toll on your fitness and overall well-being.  

    Thus, it is important to ensure you are fuelling your body with the food it needs so that it can adequately support muscle recovery. 

    Soothe your muscles 

    While resting is vital for muscle recovery, a massage or two wouldn’t hurt. In fact, research has shown that massages may help with recovery, improving blood flow and decreasing inflammation after exercise. It can also help reduce DOMS by approximately 30%, which we’re sure no one would complain about! 

    While scheduling a massage now and then might be nice, it can be expensive too. Why not opt for a at home massager instead? There are many benefits to owning one. Ditch the hassle of heading out and enjoy relief from the comfort of your own home.  

    For example, our best-selling uCozy Neck & Shoulders Massager is a versatile massager that can be used on any part of your body for quick and targeted relief.  

    Get enough ZZZs 

    As discussed above, not getting enough sleep might be the prime culprit as to why your body doesn’t recover. Getting plenty of sleep at night helps ensure your body has the energy it needs to get through the workouts you want to do. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, healthy adults should be clocking between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. 

    Struggling to fall asleep? Here are some of our tips on how to get that good sleep. 

    Rest is vital

    Exercise should make you feel good and not miserable. Give yourself permission to take a break every now and then. When you’re ready to hop back to it, don’t forget to pick up a massager to help you soothe your muscles. 

    uPulse Mat EMS Leg Massager

    Relax and tone your legs in one step. The bioelectrical pulses generated by the uPulse Mat combats various leg problems, by offering pain relief, improving local blood circulation, toning leg muscles and reducing muscle recovery time.  

    uPamper Lite Handheld Massager

    Body aches often happen unexpectedly and can be distracting, especially at work. Soothe such pesky aches quickly with the uPamper Lite and its Ultra Hand-Tap massage technology that offers instant relief, in one ergonomically designed massager. 

    uDolly 2 Portable Massager

    Bringing you the convenience of strong targeted massage, the uDolly 2’s Power Vibration Massage provides a quick on-the-go relief for various parts of your body. 

    uThrone Gaming Massage Chair

    The World's First Gaming Massage Chair. Featuring OSIM's signature V-Hand and Lumbar Massage Technology, the uThrone emulates the skilful techniques and flexibility of a masseuse's hands for an effective muscle pain relief making it your ultimate weapon for personalised comfort. 

    Live better and find relief at intl.osim.com