Athlete, work out addicts, people with eating disorders probably have experienced over training at one time or another. Sometimes people are aware of it, other times people force through pain without even realizing the stress you put on yourself. I have experienced it as an athlete and I have experienced it through personal body image issues. I’ve been aware and I have not been aware. I played division 1 soccer so of course training, running, weight lifting, and extensive hours of soccer would take a toll on my body. Sometimes 2-3 hours a day and that was normal. I would push hard through practice because I am competitive but also because I was a starter. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to keep my spot. I earned it and I loved it. But man was I sore and tired. I would find myself in class dozing off and eventually by the end of the week, my legs would be burnt out. I wasn’t aware of how much I was OVERtraining my body. It affected me in games at times. Without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance.
Then there was times after season where I still found myself pushing myself beyond limits and I knew it. I started becoming obsessed with my body and how there was always room to improve somewhere (even though I was a lean machine). I started to become to thin, was losing muscle mass, and really didn’t look healthy. Everyone always knew me as a strong muscle toned girl. When I dropped 10 pounds of muscle mass I knew my training was part of it. I was irritable, anxious, grumpy, and didn’t want to be as social. I def was an exercise addict’s frame of mind: I no longer chose to exercise but felt compelled to do so and struggled with guilt and anxiety if I didn’t work out. Injury, illness, an outing with friends, bad weather — none of these would deter me to compulsively exercise. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to draw a clear line dividing a healthy amount of exercise from too much, but I knew I had to make changes. And I did. This is what can happen when over training:
Excessive exercise can damage tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage, and joints, and when minor injuries aren’t allowed to heal, they often result in long-term damage. Instead of building muscle, too much exercise actually destroys muscle mass, especially if the body isn’t getting enough nutrition, forcing it to break down muscle for energy.
Girls who exercise compulsively may disrupt the balance of hormones in their bodies. This can change their menstrual cycles (some girls lose their periods altogether, a condition known as amenorrhea) – which I did-and increase the risk of premature bone loss (osteoporosis). And of course, working their bodies so hard leads to exhaustion and constant fatigue. An even more serious risk is the stress that excessive exercise can place on the heart, particularly when someone is also engaging in unhealthy weight loss behaviors such as restricting intake.
Psychologically, exercise addicts are often plagued by anxiety and depression. They may have a negative image of themselves and feel worthless. Their social and academic lives may suffer as they withdraw from friends and family to fixate on exercise. Even if they want to succeed in school or in relationships, working out always comes first, so they end up skipping homework or missing out on time spent with friends.
This problem does not happen over night, neither will treating it. First step is recognizing the problems you have deveolped. Take the time to maybe cut back on minutes on your workouts. Don’t go so intense every single day ( I used to 6 days a week-yikes!). Switch up high intensity work outs with low intensity every other day to give your body a chance to recover. Drink plenty of fluids and alter your diet if necessary-switch up meals, like you do your work outs.
This will allow the body to replenish it’s energy stores on rest days because if you don’t, it will continue to breakdown. Alter workouts with yoga, flexibility, core training, high intensity, walks, and runs. Check out my workout tab for ideas. Make it fun and enjoy it! If you feel you can not do these steps yourself or with someone close to you, you need to seek professional help.