You will have heard of the term burnout, but have you met its exercise-induced cousin overtraining syndrome?
Overtraining syndrome is often referred to as burning out, and they have similar potential outcomes. This can include reduced performance, excessive fatigue, high emotion, insomnia, loss of appetite and experiencing a loss of motivation, commitment and confidence.
If you are poorly recovered and highly stressed in your daily life then this will impact how hard you can workout before you end up overtraining. Conversely, if you workout too hard too often then it will increase your chances of burning out.
High intensity interval training such as circuit training have become popular because of the rush of endorphins and dopamine that they can give you. This can become addictive, resulting in frequent intense training sessions that are not interspersed with adequate recovery periods.
Although intense workouts do have their benefits, it is important to find the right balance between work and recovery. Planning your workouts to match your current state of mind is crucial to your health and performance.
Here are four tips to striking balance in your exercise regime:
Mix up the intensity of your workouts
Planning your training schedule to incorporate a mix of hard, medium and recovery sessions will allow you to adapt and progress. You can have too much of a good thing and only working out intensely is no different. Match your exercise selection to your current mental state.
Eat a Mediterranean diet
Eating a Mediterranean diet, which consists mainly of fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, nuts, a small amount of meat and even the odd glass of red wine, will supply your body with the nutrients it needs to regenerate.
A review of 12 studies with over 1.5 million subjects showed that those who stick to this way of eating are more likely to live longer, while having less chance of dying from stroke, heart disease or developing cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. The high fat, high fibre content of this diet also makes it extremely hard to overeat, meaning that you will never need to count calories. It’s a win-win.
Practice mindfulness and breathe deeply
Breathing slowly and mindfully prompts the hypothalamus, connected to the pituitary gland in the brain, to inhibit stress-producing hormones and trigger a relaxation response in the body. Taking a moment to concentrate on your breath can help you to stay calm and reset from the demands of your day.
Sleep has many benefits including reducing stress, improving memory, increasing focus and even impacting weight management. When you fall asleep, your body switches from its active sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to the calmer parasympathetic nervous system resulting in you feeling more relaxed the following day. However, when you don’t sleep well your SNS remains active leaving you feeling more stressed when you wake up the next morning.
Aim to get at least seven hours sleep whenever possible. You can improve your chances of achieving deep sleep by avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, keeping your room cool and dark while keeping to a regular sleep schedule.
Sleep, mindfulness, exercise, nutrition and daily activity all play an important part in our health and wellbeing. Finding the right mix will help you juggle the constant demands of modern life.
You can have too much of a good thing – balance is key.
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