Itâs 7 a.m. on a Friday, and my dog and I have just finished our 15-minute morning walk. As Maddie tries to race up the stairs to my third-floor walk-up apartment, I pull back on the leash, and make my way slowly up the 36 stairs. Iâm counting each step, and at the top, Iâm walking like some version of Frankenstein. I pride myself on being in good shape, at least as fit as my Shih Tzu. I reluctantly admit that I may have over-exercised.
Exercise becoming a habit is a good thing. And itâs natural to feel sore after a good workout, especially when youâre targeting muscle groups you havenât worked in a while. But exercise can be like chocolate cake â there can be too much of a good thing.
Part of reaching and maintaining optimal fitness includes recovery time, especially when youâre doing high intensity exercises. I asked Methodist Dallas Medical Centerâs certified exercise physiologist Ginnie Emmott, ACSM EP-C, EIM Level II, to look at my typical weekly workout schedule and let me know what Iâm doing right and what Iâm doing wrong:
- Sunday-Pilates â strength training using a Megaformer machine. Works upper body, lower body and core
- Monday â 45-minute indoor cycling class (known to most of us as spinning)
- Tuesday âHot yoga sculpt â yoga stretches that incorporate weights in a heated room
- Wednesday â 60-minute Body Sculpt, a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, working all muscle groups
- Thursday â 60-minute HIIT class, which includes 30 minutes of treadmill runs, 30 minutes of weights, working all muscle groups
- Friday â Off
- Saturday â 60-minute HIIT class, which includes 30 minutes of treadmill and rowing, 30 minutes of weights, working all muscle groups
Each night, I stretch for about 30 minutes while I watch TV.
Hereâs the verdict from the expert:
âThese sound like great classes and workouts that you do! I applaud you for that much motivation as well as giving yourself a DAY OFF!,â Ginnie says. âTo start, I would ask a few questions such as what are your goals regarding your exercise routine and is the cycling class HIIT as well? The number one rule: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Your body is designed to âfight or flight.â It is an amazing piece of work.â
Some signs of overtraining include:
Delayed recovery time: soreness is common for a day to 2 days after (length depends on how conditioned you are and what youâve been doing) but âstaying soreâ is a sign of too much.
Elevated resting heart rate: if youâre overtraining your heart rate may stay elevated through the day or it may not come back to recovery state as quick.
Mood changes: agitation, depression, irritability for no good reason
Decreased performance or lack of improved performance: if something that once was easy is now taking more effort or if you are not experiencing improved performance no matter how you adjust the workout.
Weakened immune system
Loss of motivation i.e. burnout
These in and of themselves are great workouts, great activities (especially if you enjoy them!) I would encourage possibly subbing something for a moderate intensity exercise day or âactive restâ such as going on a walk with a friend, or walking your dog just to enjoy the scenery.