7 Signs And Symptoms You Need A Break From The Gym

I want to begin this first by stating that exercise has amazing health benefits, including improving your mood and giving you energy. That being said, there is such a thing as too much exercise, and understanding the signs and symptoms of too much exercise is important for your health and wellbeing.

Below lists the top indicators you need a rest day from the gym:

1. You are having difficulty sleeping

Exercising most days of the week can be one of the best ways to promote good sleep, but the opposite is true if you are exercising too much. When you exercise too much without letting your body rest for an adequate amount of time, this causes elevated cortisol in your body which can disrupt your normal sleep hormones.

Another reason too much exercise can lead to bad sleep could be from sore muscles, which can happen if muscles are not able to fully recover from a workout.

2. You don’t look forward to your workout

If you normally look forward to your workout or fitness class, and now you are dreading the thought of exercise, this is a clear indicator that you might want to take the day off. Check-in with your body

3. You get anxiety just thinking about your workout

Exercise should not feel like a chore and it should be an enjoyable thing, and a way to release from the stress of the day and take time for yourself. If you can’t even stomach the thought of working out again, this might be a sign to take a break.

Note: If you always dread exercise no matter how much or how little you’ve been exercising, this means you need to find a different mode of exercise. Hate running? Then try yoga or a spin class. The most important thing is that you enjoy the workout.

4. You feel tired after exercising

Exercise should make you feel energized and is meant to boost the feel good hormones in the brain. If you are feeling more tired and fatigued after exercise, this is a sign that either your exercise was too intense and/or you need to take a day off.

5. You feel more irritable

Too much exercise can cause cortisol levels to remain elevated at all times, which can make you feel more anxious and irritable. If you have been more irritable lately, one of the questions you should ask yourself is how much exercise have you been doing.

Note: The flip-side of this is if you have not been exercising and you have been feeling more irritable. In this case, exercising should help to boost feel good hormones and promote improved mood.

6. You are developing an injury

If you have an ache or pain that doesn’t go away after a few days and if anything is getting worse, this is a sign of wear and tear on a muscle and or other supporting structure such as a tendon or ligament. Muscle is broken down with exercise so that it can rebuild and become stronger, but if the tissue does not have adequate time to rebuild then you are at risk for further tissue breakdown and injury.

7. You can’t remember the last time you took a rest day

If you think back and can’t remember the last time you didn’t do a workout, this is definitely an indicator that you need to take a day off. I recommend taking off one day a week or one day every two weeks, depending on how intense you workout.

Note: Taking a rest day does not mean you just have to sit around all day. Take this day to do a light yoga class, stretch, and get some walking in. I still recommend getting at least 10,000 steps per day on a rest day.

8. Your period is late

Over-exercising can cause your period to be irregularly long due to a delay in ovulation. This is most likely due to elevated cortisol level from the stress of exercise on the body, which can inhibit the normal cascade of events needed for ovulation. Read about other causes of an irregularly long cycle here.

9. An easy workout now feels hard to finish

If you are having a hard time finishing a workout that you normally can finish with no problem, this is a sign that you need to take a day off from the gym. When your muscles are so taxed, this can cause them to not perform at their optimal level.

Main takeaways..

One or more of the above can be an indicator that you need to take a rest from working out. Again, this doesn’t mean you have to be inactive, instead make this an active rest day and walk, stretch, maybe even some light yoga.

About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy-league trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab

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