Overtraining, Effects

We all know the saying – you can never have enough of a good thing. Exercise is good for you, no doubt. But you can get too much of it, or even become addicted to it. Women are especially susceptible to doing too much exercise because of the added pressure thrust upon them by society.

This pressure along with an original desire to become fit can lead to an obsessive disorder known as exercise bulimia, or to other problems, such as exhaustion or abandonning your regime altogether.

You keep exercising yet you feel tired or like you’re not getting anywhere. So you intensify your workouts or add more days to your routine. What happens? You still feel tired, or worse, you injure yourself. When you’ve reached a plateau you have to stir up your routine to move to the next level, but if you’re continually physically and mentally tired, you need to take a break.

“Rest” is not a dirty word! Take a complete day off once a week. And remember to take a vacation, sleep late once in a while, walk on the beach, or go out shopping for a day instead of doing time on the StairMaster. Anything to break the cycle. It will recharge you and get you back in the swing of things. This is a simple problem to solve, and you can usually catch yourself in time before anything drastic happens.

Your bodily reserves are just like the batteries in your Walkman – after continued use, they are going to run out and you have to replace or recharge them if you want to keep hearing your favorite song.

If you do not recover after a few days rest, you may have entered into a level of overtraining that will require perhaps 6 to 8 weeks of rest, or longer.

The symptoms of this are persistent muscle soreness, loss of interest in training, an increase in your resting heart rate and changes in your sleeping patterns. Other symptoms of severe overtraining can include diarrhea, persistent weight loss, swollen lymph glands, increased susceptibility to infection, loss of menstruation in women, inability to concentrate and loss of libido. Only start training again when you want to, and then only slowly.

 


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Overtraining, Effects

Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular  

Vision disturbances



Symptoms - Mind - Emotional  

Irritability



 

Being anxious/nervous



Symptoms - Muscular  

Individual weak muscles




Conditions that suggest Overtraining, Effects

Immunity  

Weakened Immune System

High performance athletes have chronically lowered immune systems. The high level of training leaves their immune systems frequently depressed so that, for example, if a group of athletes is training together, a flu bug will rapidly make its way around. It is said that, in immunological terms, high-performance athletes are some of the least healthy people around.



Lifestyle  

(Possibly) overtraining



Counter Indicators
Lifestyle  

Absence of overtraining



Metabolic  


Uro-Genital  


 

Amenorrhea

Many young female athletes in training experience absent menstrual cycles due to low body fat content. Exercising women with regular menstrual cycles and amenorrheic women who do not exercise excessively demonstrate a clear diurnal rhythm of leptin levels. Exercising women with amenorrhea lose this normal rhythm, which raises the possibility that this cycle is important for the maintenance of reproductive function. Leptin levels normally rise during the afternoon and reach a peak in the early hours of the morning, then decline towards dawn.

For some women, simply explaining the need for adequate calorific intake to match energy expenditure results in increased intake and/or reduced exercise, and their menses resume. For those women in whom no other cause of amenorrhea can be found, but who are unable or unwilling to either increase food intake or decrease the amount of exercise, estrogen replacement therapy is strongly indicated. Appropriate therapy consists of any estrogen replacement regimen that includes endometrial protection.




Risk factors for Overtraining, Effects

Lab Values - Chemistries  

Excellent HDL level

Very vigorous exercise and regular long-term heavy aerobic exercise can cause HDL levels to become especially elevated. This is in keeping with the fact that exercise raises HDL levels, and demostrates that over exertion produces further elevations. It is unlikely that there are any negative effects from this elevation, only cardiovascular benefits.




Overtraining, Effects suggests the following may be present

Nutrients  


 



Overtraining, Effects can lead to

Immunity  

Weakened Immune System

High performance athletes have chronically lowered immune systems. The high level of training leaves their immune systems frequently depressed so that, for example, if a group of athletes is training together, a flu bug will rapidly make its way around. It is said that, in immunological terms, high-performance athletes are some of the least healthy people around.



Metabolic  


Uro-Genital  

Male Infertility (Low Sperm Count)

Moderate amounts of exercise should generally be helpful. However, running more than 100 miles per week or cycling more than 50 miles per week has caused decreased spermatogenesis.



 

Amenorrhea

Many young female athletes in training experience absent menstrual cycles due to low body fat content. Exercising women with regular menstrual cycles and amenorrheic women who do not exercise excessively demonstrate a clear diurnal rhythm of leptin levels. Exercising women with amenorrhea lose this normal rhythm, which raises the possibility that this cycle is important for the maintenance of reproductive function. Leptin levels normally rise during the afternoon and reach a peak in the early hours of the morning, then decline towards dawn.

For some women, simply explaining the need for adequate calorific intake to match energy expenditure results in increased intake and/or reduced exercise, and their menses resume. For those women in whom no other cause of amenorrhea can be found, but who are unable or unwilling to either increase food intake or decrease the amount of exercise, estrogen replacement therapy is strongly indicated. Appropriate therapy consists of any estrogen replacement regimen that includes endometrial protection.




Recommendations for Overtraining, Effects

Amino Acid / Protein  

Glutamine

The amino acid glutamine is believed to counteract exercise-induced immune system suppression. In one study, 200 runners and rowers consumed either a glutamine-containing drink or placebo drink. The percentage of athletes who reported no infections was 81% in the glutamine group and 49% in the placebo drink.



Extract  

Beta 1,3 Glucan

People who exercise excessively, professional and amateur athletes as well as people who workout intensively can experience a temporary immune deficiency which can result in infection. Beta-1,3-glucan provides nonspecific immunostimulation that can increase the resistance to illness.



 

Plant Sterols / Sterolins (Phytosterols)

A sterols/sterolins mixture was tested in a clinical study (double-blind, placebo-controlled) conducted in marathon runners, a model of the effects of excessive exercise on the immune system. Such individuals are prone to transient immune suppression due to the activation of several endocrinological shifts that ultimately lead to decreased immunity. This study showed that the marathon runners had less inflammation post event (lower IL6 plasma levels), less hematological disturbances (less lymphopenia and less neutrophilia in the peripheral blood) and maintained their adreno-cortical status compared to their baseline values. The study thus showed that Moducare was able to abrogate the immunological shifts that usually accompany endurance exercise. [Int. J. Sports Med. 1999:20, pp.258-262]



Habits  


Physical Medicine  


Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
Reasonably likely to cause problems

Glossary

Bulimia Nervosa

An eating disorder characterized by lack of control - abnormal eating behavior including dieting, vomiting, purging and particularly bingeing that is usually associated with normal weight or obesity (unlike anorexics, who tend to be considerably underweight). The syndrome is associated with guilt, depressed mood, low self-esteem and sometimes with childhood sexual abuse, alcoholism or promiscuity.

Diarrhea

Excessive discharge of contents of bowel.

Lymph Glands

Located in the lymph vessels of the body, these glands trap foreign material and produce lymphocytes. These glands act as filters in the lymph system, and contain and form lymphocytes and permit lymphatic cells to destroy certain foreign agents.

Estrogen

One of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries.

Aerobic

Using oxygen. For example, aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, bicycling or playing tennis use up lots of oxygen and burn up lots of calories and fat.

High-Density Lipoprotein

(HDL): Also known as "good" cholesterol, HDLs are large, dense, protein-fat particles that circulate in the blood picking up already used and unused cholesterol and taking them back to the liver as part of a recycling process. Higher levels of HDLs are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease because the cholesterol is cleared more readily from the blood.

Cardiovascular

Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.

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