I had a conversation with one of my patients* this past week about whether or not she was overdoing it at the gym. She was working out most days of the week, combining cardio exercise with weight training. However, she was also getting sick a lot, not sleeping well, and feeling run down in general. After some discussion, she decided that maybe she was trying to do too much and would switch out some of her hard workout sessions for something more gentle, like a walk in her neighborhood.
I believe that exercise is the fountain of youth and one of the foundations of good health. However, it is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if some is good for you, a lot must be better. This is not the case, and speaks to one of the simple steps of good health. According to Chinese medicine, moderation in all things is the key to health and longevity.
With exercise, sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’re doing too much. I have friends who are in incredible condition from running or biking long distances. However, they’re the ones who catch every cold or flu that goes around. Decreased immunity can be one sign that you’re putting in too much time at the gym, on the roads, or in the pool. Some other signs of overtraining include:
-Lack of enthusiasm for your sport or a stale, flat feeling when you’re working out.
-Overall fatigue or lack of energy.
-Sleep disturbances; either the inability to fall asleep, frequent waking, or restless sleep.
-An achy or uncomfortable feeling in your muscles.
-A decrease in your sports performance.
-Depression or irritibility.
-Loss of appetite.
While physical activity is an important component to good health, It’s important to remember that in everything, there’s a balance. The Yang of movement must be balanced with the Yin of stillness and recovery.
*Names and identifying details have been changed.