5 Signs You're Exercising Too Much

over exercise workout
(Photo: iStock)

With summer just around the corner, you’ve got a lot of unanswered questions looming on the horizon: Which exotic beach should you book a trip to? Which fabulous swimsuit should you order? And how in the world are you going to get your body to resemble Jessica Biel’s in less than a month?

With the promise of beaches, pools and long days spent outside in barely-there ensembles, you might be feeling the pressure more than ever to achieve that archetypal “summer bod.” You’ve signed up for an array of group classes, pinned every at-home exercise and even foregone post-work happy hour in lieu of a run.

But is there such a thing as too much exercise?

Frances Sacripanti, Certified Health Coach with a Masters in Physical Education, says there is -- and that the effects can be pretty detrimental for your body. “If you place demands on the body through constant exercise, you'll need some form of recovery period. Remember, rest is just as important as exercise. It may vary for people based on individual physical differences but there is no arguing the fact that overdoing it can lead to problems."

It’s a well-known fact that in order to see results you have to put in the work. But Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor Megan Conner says sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. "Exercise can become an addiction and can lead to feeling tired or even exhausted, plateauing and not seeing results, causing a high heart rate and other physical, mental and emotional effects."

A new study reveals that people who routinely expose themselves to highly vigorous exercise are at risk for a type of heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation, which is where the heart beats very rapidly and irregularly.

While there’s no contesting that staying fit and active is incredibly beneficial for your health, keep an eye out for these signs that you might be overdoing it.

You’ve lost your motivation.
You used to be totally stoked for a good sweat session, but now it just feels like a heavy burden to maintain. Even worse, you severely judge your day as “good” or “bad” based solely on how much or how little you were able to exercise. "Over-exercising can sometimes affect your hormone and cortisol levels, which can really make you feel depressed, unmotivated and tired," Conner says. "People who suffer from this will plateau and find it very hard to see results or move forward in their fitness goals."  

You’re having trouble sleeping.
There is scientific evidence proving that a particularly intense workout can foster insomnia. The reason is that added physical stress increases your body’s level of cortisol, which can make getting some relaxing shut eye virtually impossible.

Your heart is racing.
When you put too much strain on your body and your heart, your resting heart rate will increase dramatically. Altered resting heart rate is the result of your increased metabolic rate to catch up to the harsh demand of your training.

You feel heavy or sluggish.
If you exercise regularly with no problem but then all of a sudden feel like your workout is extremely difficult, it could be your body’s way of crying out for help. If you’re overworking your body, you’re not going to end a workout feeling refreshed and energized; you’re going to feel heavy, sluggish and totally wiped out, feeling even worse than before you started.

Your social life is severely affected.
It’s one thing to opt for a workout over a girls dinner every once in a while, but if you find yourself canceling most social obligations, family plans or even work meetings in order to accommodate your rigorous exercise schedule you might consider re-evaluating your priorities. “It may require taking a close look at your relationship with exercise, thinking about it's role in your life and assessing if you have a healthy relationship with exercise or an obsessive one,” Sacripanti explains. “Physical health is important but equally so is your emotional and social health.”

Conner's motto when it comes to healthy workouts? "Train smart and train happy!" She maintains that working out is meant to be fun and that there's a balance between setting healthy goals and overdoing it. "Make sure your fitness intentions are in the right place, and seek professional guidance for any lofty goals you set for yourself."