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Overcome OvertrainingI realize that the majority of us don’t suffer from overtraining, as most people desperately need to exercise more, not less. However, there are some exercise addicts (I’m one of them) who thrive on movement and endorphins and who struggle to slow down or take a day off.  And competitive athletes can be common victims of overtraining, of course.

When I was in graduate school, I was teaching 5-8 physical education classes each week (and participating alongside my students), leading 5-6 group exercise classes a week at a health club, conducting personal training sessions and performing some of my own workouts. Can you say overtrained?

Even though I had youth on my side, my body couldn’t keep up. Miraculously, I didn’t suffer an injury, but I experienced a very rapid heartbeat, insomnia and exhaustion combined and progressively weaker workouts. Other over exercising effects include muscle and joint soreness, hyperexcitability, headaches, moodiness, decreased immunity, inability to focus and lack of results. And overtraining frequently leads to injuries.

To reduce your risk of or treat overtraining, you may need to cut back on exercise frequency by taking a day or two off each week, or incorporating a recovery day with a very light workout that differs from your regular routine. Or vary your intensity with workouts – you shouldn’t be performing high-intensity interval training or anaerobic conditioning every day. Also, ensure that you are taking in enough calories and fluids to meet your activity levels (you might need to consult a dietitian), sleep more and add restorative treatments, such as gentle stretching, meditation or massage.

Intensity is good but balance is key for optimal fitness and health.