Committing to an exercise routine  – and sticking to it – feels great! You feel energised, you’re lean and fit, your self-esteem is flying high… And before you know it, you’re just a little bit addicted to your workouts. That can’t be bad, can it?The quick answer is: Yes, it is bad. The routine that’s got you hooked could be the very thing that’s causing you to feel exercise burnout and undermining the hours you’re spending at the gym.
The question is, how do you know if you’re headed for exercise burnout?

Here are five signs you must watch out for.

1. You leave the gym feeling exhausted not invigorated

When it’s done right, exercise prompts your body to release a lot of feel-good chemicals (like endorphins). At the same time, it also helps your body squeeze out the toxins that bring you down. This explains why you feel so fabulous after a workout.

But when you’ve consistently been overdoing it, the workout taxes your body. You’ll find the levels of cortisol (stress hormones), that are also released during a workout, are too high.

There’s also the psychological factor – when your workouts depress you, rather than excite you, it means you need to change things up. Or take a break and slow down.

2. You’re sore for days after the workout

We all expect a little bit of stiffness and muscle pain after an intense workout (especially if it’s an exercise we haven’t done before, or haven’t done in a while). But normal pain is that which lasts two to three days. Bad pain lasts beyond the three-day mark.

And it’s a sign that your muscles just aren’t coping with the amount of work you’re asking them to do (and/or your diet and rest schedule are not allowing your body to recuperate). This is a one of the signs that you’re heading towards exercise burnout.

Take a break – a few days off will do you good. And make sure you are replacing nutrients and minerals through your diet and supplements.

3. You’re losing a lot of sleep

It’s a fact: People who exercise regularly sleep better. They fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply and sleep for longer. Too much exercise, however, causes your body to release too much of the chemicals and hormones that interfere with your body’s natural sleep rhythms.

Make sure you end your workouts a few hours before your bed times so you have enough time to wind down after exercising. Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep every night to help your body recover from intense exercise.

How to avoid exercise burnout

4. You get sick too often (and it takes you a long time to get better)

When you engage in intense exercise, your body will use up the nutrients you get from your food to repair the wear-and-tear that’s a natural side effect of the exercise. This is why it’s so important to eat a very healthy, nutritious diet when you are exercising intensely and regularly.
But no matter how nutritious your diet, when you overdo the exercise, your body simply can’t keep up. Your immune system is weakened, and even a little sniffle will knock you off your feet.

Rest is as important as good nutrition.

5. You’re thirsty, even after you’ve emptied the office water cooler

It’s normal to get thirsty after a hectic workout. But if you find yourself feeling very thirsty, all day – regardless of how many litres of water you’ve downed that day -it could be a sign that you’ve pushed your body into a catabolic state:

  • In a nutshell, you’re catabolic when your body starts breaking down large molecule proteins into smaller units to release energy.
  • The result is a breakdown in your muscle tissue. And also dehydration.

Both of these not only undermine your efforts at the gym. They really put your health at risk.

If you’re showing signs of exercise burnout, hopefully you have a great personal trainer who’ll recommend the right change in routine, the right amount of rest, and the correct supplementation.

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