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How To Prevent Overtraining

Overtraining is defined as training or exercising more than the body can recover from, to the point where performance declines (Stevenson 2009). It’s a common problem for people who weight train, but runners and other athletes can also experience it. Many highly motivated exercisers are obsessed with training and are afraid to rest. They believe that the harder they exercise, the bigger, stronger and fitter they will become.

Overtraining can affect mood and stress levels. Too much exercise can reduce exercisers’ enthusiasm and desire for training, leaving them irritable and depressed, especially as the quality of their workouts declines (Matthews 2009).

As a training principle, rest and recovery are widely undervalued and underused (Stevenson 2009). Yet if a training program does not include sufficient rest, then recovery cannot occur and the exerciser’s performance will plateau. If this imbalance between excess exercise and inadequate rest persists, performance will decline. And too much overload and/or too little recovery may result in overtraining syndrome, which has both physical and psychological symptoms (Quinn 2011).

Physical Symptoms of Overtrainig:

  • Muscle joint tenderness or tightness
  • Decrease performance
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pres-sure
  • Changes in menstrual pattern for women
To make sure these symptoms do not increase make sure you have sufficient recovery time after intense workouts. Get enough sleep : 7-8 hours per night. Have the adequate intake of carbohydrates and protein. Also, drink plenty of fluids.

The goal is to keep healthy when exercising. The key to avoiding overtraining and keep healthy is prevention. It’s difficult to identify over trained exercisers, because there is no simple test or clinical diagnosis for the condition. So the best thing any exerciser at any level can do is to be aware of how to recognize for themselves the general symptoms of overtraining and the importance of rest and recovery time.

Taken from IDEA Mind-Body Wellness Review, Volume 3, Issue 2, written by: Val-erie Applebaum, MPH, CHES