Over-training has become a common practice nowadays. Many people workout because they want to gain muscle, lose some weight, and achieve the physique that they have been dreaming off. These individuals are often in such a hurry to achieve their ideal physique that they forget to follow fitness safety guidelines. Many athletes who over-train exercise for about six hours a day — a length of time that is considered to be excessive. These individuals do not realize that over-training may do more harm than good. Too much or too intense training may lead to injuries, low testosterone levels among men and amenorrhea in women.
Some medical studies suggest that over-training may cause a temporary decrease in testosterone levels. Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone which plays an important role in libido, immune function, energy, and many more. This hormone is essential for the development of male sex and reproductive organs like the penis, testicles, and the prostate. Low levels of testosterone may cause a problem to many men.
A temporary reduction in sperm count and quality which may lead to temporary infertility may also be experienced by men who over-train. This happens because the body literally kills itself during training and needs time to recuperate to build muscles and improve the body. Too much or too intense physical activity may reduce the level of hormones in the bloodstream and therefore affect sperm production. The decrease in these components is temporary and may return to normal after a few days of rest.
Women who engage in over-training are at risk of many health problems like amenorrhea, a term that refers to the absence of menstrual periods. This is experienced by women because of extremely low body fat content. Missed menstruation is often linked to decreased estrogen (primary female sex hormone) levels. Several medical studies show that amenorrheic women, and those who have body fats below 10% of the ideal measure may have a hard time getting pregnant. In addition to this, amenorrhea may also lead to osteoporosis, an ailment which decreases bone density, making the bones vulnerable to fracture and other injuries. Bones usually become brittle when people are much older, but some young women, especially the ones who experience amenorrhea develop brittle bones at a very young age.
Signs and symptoms of over-training may include the following:
missed or irregular menstrual periods
extreme or rapid weight loss
behaviors that reflect frequent like eating very little, not eating in front of others, and focus on low-calorie food
frequent and intense exercising (taking aerobics class followed by a five mile run, swimming for long hours, and weight-lifting
an “I can’t miss a day of workout” attitude
anxious preoccupation with injuries
exercising despite illness, bad weather, injury and other conditions that may require resting
too much self-criticism or self-dissatisfaction
extreme anxiety and low self-esteem
feeling cold most of the time
constant conversations about weight
If these signs are experienced, it is important to make adjustments in one’s exercise routine and eating regimen. Exercising in moderation and reducing the intensity from time to time, coupled with healthy diets may help prevent the adverse effects of over-training. For women, it is also best to seek advice from one’s doctor to make sure that one’s missed periods is not a sign of over-training. Individuals who want to lose weight properly are encouraged to consult doctors and other health professionals for advice. Understanding the proper workout regimen, and including a healthy diet in one’s lifestyle may lead to improved health and overall well-being.