Fitness

4 Tips for Preventing Exercise Overexertion

We all know that exercise is good for you. Its benefits are innumerable. It makes you healthier, happier, more fit and energetic. However, it’s more than possible to work too hard and suffer from what is known as overexertion.

What is Overexertion?

Overexertion is a condition that happens when you’ve pushed your body farther than you should. It’s obvious that you need to work out and exercise hard and often to get into the best shape. What many people don’t know, however, is that your body needs lots of time and nutrition in between exercise to recover. When your body is continually forced to be active without having time to rest and heal, you can develop overexertion. When this happens, a variety of negative effects take place.

Effects of Overexertion

The symptoms of overexertion include, but are not limited to:

  • General weakness of muscles
  • Fatigue and chronic tiredness
  • Irritability and crankiness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased likelihood of injuries of all types

Avoiding Overexertion

This is obviously a condition you want to avoid. Luckily, it’s easy to dodge working yourself too hard; just work out less! It’s common to want to work out hard and often to improve your fitness and health. This is actually a good thing. However, you have to realize that your body can not improve itself if it’s not given time after physical activity to recuperate. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you avoid this situation.

1.        Rotate your workouts. If you’re doing strength training, you stick to doing one or two muscle groups per day. Then the next day you can do another group, and another after that. When you train a muscle group very hard, you should allow two days before working it again. Also, if you like to strength train along with aerobic workouts, try alternating so one day you do all aerobic, the next all strength, the next aerobic, etc.

2.        Get lots of sleep. Your body works its hardest at restoring itself during sleep, so getting enough rest is especially important if you are exercising intensely more than three or four times per week. Aim for about 8 hours a day.

3.        Take rest days. You should devote at least one day per week entirely to resting. You shouldn’t do any more than light exercises like walking and stretching on this day.

4.        Eat right. You might be exercising to lose weight, but it’s still important to nourish yourself. Make sure you are taking in a good amount of carbohydrates and protein. Preferably, if, you are doing a lot of aerobic training, aim for a diet with approximately 50 to 65 percent of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates. If you are focused on strength training, aim for around 20 percent of your calories to come from protein and at least 45 percent from carbohydrates. You don’t want to overeat, but remember that there is also a risk of eating too little. Talk to a dietitian if you would like an individualized assessment of the number of calories you need.

References

Noakes, T., “Physiological models to understand exercise fatigue and the adaptations that predict or enhance athletic performance”. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2000; 10(3): 123-145.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1034/j.1600-0838.2000.010003123.x/abstract

Zawadzki, K., et al. “Carbohydrate-protein complex increases the rate of muscle glycogen storage after exercise”. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1992; 72(5): 1854-1859.
http://jap.physiology.org/content/72/5/1854.short

Biolo, G., et al. “Increased rates of muscle protein turnover and amino acid transport after resistance exercise in humans”. AJP – Endo. 1995; 268(3): E514-E520.
http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/268/3/E514.short

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