Pushing your body to reach its fullest potential is a great thing; however, working too aggressively and not giving it proper rest and repair can backfire. In today's age, it's likely to experience signs your body is overworked, whether from strenuous activity (like those high-intensity bootcamp classes, for example), work stress, relationship drama, and tight, grueling deadlines. It seems as though tasks pile up, and the body can certainly go into overdrive mode, without getting adequate chill time.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on keeping their bodies active each day. Being too sedentary (which is probable when many of our careers are situated around desks and laptops), can be detrimental to health, happiness, and longevity, so I always encourage finding time for movement. However, pushing the body to unsafe extremes, or working out intensely daily, can also be harmful, and the body will probably become too stressed to function well. Instead, variety is key. Listening to the body and giving it slower, more rejuvenating body work, along with those bouts of rigorous activity, can help achieve a better balance. Here are 11 signs your body is overworked and needs some down time to feel as good as new.
1. Higher Resting Heart Rate
According to Dr. Michael Jonesco, a sports medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, over email with Bustle, "elevated stress hormones work because they maximize your bodies potential. One of the ways it does so is by increasing heart rate (which enables it to pump more blood to our peripheral tissues). Our baseline heart rate should vary little on a day to day basis." Jonesco adds, "If you know your resting heart rate you can use it to know when your body is being overstressed or over trained, as it will elevate beyond 10 bpm."
2. Decreased Performance In The Gym
"Performance is a sometimes subtle indication that we need to stop hitting the weight room or treadmill and start hitting the pillow. Adequate rest periods are essential to how our body adapts," says Jonesco. "Changes don't just happen the hour we are at the gym. In fact, we break down tissue to build them back up stronger. This takes time (sometimes up to 2 weeks) and pushing our body during this time not only limits our performance, but possibly your gains," Jonesco further explains.
3. Missed Periods
According to Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, over email with Bustle, missed or skipped periods can be a sign of an overworked body that is in desperate need of rest. "Signs of excessive stress on your body due to your high work load," can be a clear link, Shaw says. "If you notice any of these definitely slow down and speak with your physician, it's important to make sure too you aren't skimping out on nutrition as well," Shaw recommends.
4. Grouchy Mood
"While there are several psychological tools available (POMS, RestQ, RPE Scales, etc.) that can monitor things like mood and recovery, I suggest a little insight into your temperament. Symptoms like fatigue, irritability, depression, and loss of focus may all be signs of pending exhaustion," explains Jonesco.
5. General Weakness
According to Reebok CrossFit ONE Coach and Certified CrossFit Trainer Kevin O'Connell, over email with Bustle, if you're noticing a general weakness and fatigue, you might be overtraining or stressing your body too much. "Upon waking, if you try to squeeze your hand in a fist and it feels weak, you are likely not recovering properly," O'Connell suggests.
6. Lack Of Sleep
"Not only can poor sleep (early waking, restlessness, waking tired) be signs of overtraining, but can also serve as a monitor," explains Jonesco. "There are many sleep apps out there and some even keep track of quality sleep. You should note that people who are chronically overtired or overtraining can exhibit a change in sleep patterns and cutting back on high intensity work-outs for a week or 2 can actually help return restful sleep and recovery," Jonesco says.
7. Brain Fog
If you're mentally fatigued and have trouble concentrating, it could mean that your body is overworked and needs rest. If this is the case, try doing activities that are relaxing and that can help keep your mind more active, with your body being more relaxed. For instance, a coloring book or music could help you unwind.
8. Hair Loss
Shaw also cautions against hair loss, as you might lose hair if you're dealing with too much stress on a daily basis. When the body is in overdrive, and it needs some recovery, it can wreak havoc on your head and mess with those healthy strands. If you're losing more hair than usual, consider taking a break.
9. Lower Immunity
Over email with Bustle, holistic health coach and personal trainer Jen Bruno, at J.B. Fitness And Nutrition explains that getting sick often can happen when your body is feeling the pressure and doesn't get enough rest time. If you're always getting the sniffles, try taking it easy for a while.
10. Irregular Appetite
According to Todd Nief, a personal trainer and the owner of fitness studio South Loop Strength & Conditioning, over email with Bustle, having an appetite that is off can occur when the body is overworked. If you're noticing weird appetite patterns, give your body some rest and see if it changes.
11. Lower Libido
As O'Connell explains, if you're noticing a decreased sex drive, it could mean that your body is too tired to have the energy to perform. If you're not able to engage in sexual activity due to weakness, mood alterations, or other complications, it could be a sign you need time to heal the body and feel more relaxed.
If you notice any of these symptoms, take a rest day or two and see if your body feels better. Giving yourself more recovery time in the week will keep your body running smoothly.
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