You know that hitting the gym is one of your best lines of defense against sickness this winter: research shows that exercise provides a boost to your immune system, helping to keep you strong and healthy all season long.
The key to training for boosted immunity? Listening to your body and avoiding overtraining. Doing too much and wearing yourself thin can backfire, weakening your defenses and leading to sick days.
Follow this chart to determine whether you are overtraining.
“If you’ve checked off at least one issue in each category, you could be overtraining and should schedule an extra rest day or two this week,” says Ellen Casey, MD, a sports medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. See your MD if your symptoms don’t improve.
Are irritable, moody, angry and crabby.
Experience an increase in your resting heart rate.
Experience reduced performance – you can’t train as hard, as long, or lift as heavy as before.
No longer get the same amount of joy from workouts or fitness accomplishments.
Experience increased fatigue.
Continue training despite illness, poor weather, fatigue – whatever it takes.
Have disrupted sleep.
Experience decreased motor coordination during workouts.
Have a short temper.
Experience hormonal disturbance.
Experience anxiety and/or depression.
Experience skipped or absent periods.
Experience changes in your sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up in the morning.
Have had an injury.
Get sick more often.
Feel that your body or legs are heavy, like sandbags.
*Note: The psychological and physiological symptoms of overtraining often show up much earlier than performance symptoms. Keep track of them!
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