Exercise Is Stressful... To the Body

Exercise can be stressful!

"But for the most part, that’s the point," says life coach Ali Washington. "When a healthy body is stressed, it adapts. Muscle tissue will be torn, cardiovascular tissue will be taxed, respiratory tissues will be taxed, stress hormones (cortisol) will be produced, the lymphatic system will be pumped and overall the body will be asked to perform tasks at a higher rate and speed than in normal everyday life."

Deep down, however, your body relishes capitalizes on the opportunity to rebuild. The tearing, pounding and pumping sound the stress alarms and the body responds, thinking, "That wasn't particularly enjoyable. Let's build stronger muscles and improved our systems for tomorrow." Do that enough and you'll find that, yes, stressing the body is the point. With stress comes recovery and with recovery comes strength.

Don’t be an exercise machine, be a recovery machine!

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Risks of Overtraining

There does exist a threshold at which you risk pushing the physical stress on your body too far. If you cross that threshold, you are "overtraining."

Overtraining lies at the intersection between too much exercise and too little rest; your muscles are torn, but just as their trying to rebuild and grow, they are torn again. And the challenge is exacerbated if you're dealing with a hormonal imbalance. If that's you, try to prioritize low-impact flexibility exercises, such as yoga, above intensive cardio and strength activities. 

Exercise is a stress on the body.
— Dr. Rob

With overtraining also often comes Burnout and Fatigue. When we encourage kids and young adults to be 3-sport athletes rather than year-round soccer players, we are trying to reduce the incidence of this phenomenon. Spot burnout and fatigue by symptoms of depression, disinterest in usual exercise, irregular sleep and reduced appetite. LIVESTRONG cites "increased cortisol levels, decreased thyroid hormones and altered immune function caused by overtraining" as the physiological perpetrators of burnout.

Overuse Injury and Decreased Bone Density represent two more dangers of overtraining. Naturally, if you repeat the same exact exercise daily, you will push the same set of muscles to their breaking point, a habit which could culminate in overuse injury. At the same time, excessive exercise could decrease your bone density as it does estrogen levels, and therefore heighten your chances of developing osteoporosis. Active girls and women should consider missed menstrual periods as red flags signaling that they may be overtraining. [1]

 Dr. Graham prescribes Exercise As Medicine.

Dr. Graham prescribes Exercise As Medicine.

Exercise As Medicine

Don't let the stresses mislead you: the FRESH Model includes E for Exercise, and exercise truly is medicine. One of the best ways to prevent burnout, fatigue and injury as consequences of overtraining is to mix up your regimen! Read our blog on different forms of exercise for healthy ideas, and keep an eye out for what's to come on the FRxESH blog (suggestions for setting S.M.A.R.T. exercise goals, motivational apps, how and when to workout)! And if you worry you might be overtraining - let's talk about it!