Exercise is considered beneficial for health, as it can help maintain a healthy weight, improve fitness, strengthen the heart, boost cognitive ability, and even support mental well-being.
However, as with many things in life, exercise also has its downside. Too much can be harmful. If you don't take enough time to rest and recover properly between exercise sessions and workouts, you risk overtraining.
The amount of rest and recovery you need will depend on many different factors, including your age, health, training style, and lifestyle. Only you can know how much exercise is right for you, it is very important to listen to your body instead of relying solely on external information.
- Plateau in Progress: Not seeing exciting results anymore?
- Fatigue: Wondering where that exercise-induced energy has gone?
- Insomnia: Is your heartbeat keeping you up at night?
- Frequent injuries, infections and illnesses
- Chronic Pain: You really shouldn't be in pain all the time!
- Mood swings: Are you irritable all the time?
- Hormonal changes, such as missed period or decreased libido.
Overtraining can have an extremely negative impact on your mind, body, and soul.
7 reasons to take rest and recovery more seriously.
1-. Overtraining leads to hormonal imbalance
Without enough rest and recovery between workouts, your body's production of hormones is disrupted. First, the physical stress of intense exercise triggers the same response in the body as emotional stress, so overtraining can lead to chronically high cortisol levels.
If you're already emotionally stressed, a challenging workout may seem like a good way to wind down, but this will compound the ill effects of cortisol and won't do you any good in the long run. In this case, go for a smooth and conscious movement and focus on deep breathing.
Without enough rest, your sex hormones like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen will drop. The lower these hormone levels are, the harder it is for our bodies to balance cortisol. And yes, this imbalance will completely crush your libido because survival mode = no mating! Cortisol rises even higher and the cycle continues until you finally exhaust your adrenal glands.
When this happens, hormonal levels, including cortisol, drop dangerously low. This results in low blood pressure, poor absorption of nutrients from the food we eat, severe fatigue, etc.
2-. The body breaks down muscle tissue to survive.
When cortisol levels rise for too long, we end up in a catabolic state. This is a survival mechanism by which the body breaks down muscle tissue for energy, before storing excess energy as fat.
Fat is more calorically dense, which is precisely what we need in a real survival situation. However, it's usually not the point of the game when it comes to working out.
Lack of rest and recovery will not only halt and reverse your progress, but through the process of catabolism, it will also lower your immune resistance, lower your mental health, and destroy your gastrointestinal health. But that is not all…
3-. Extra exercise does not equal extra health
As you can see, going further in the gym does not equate to greater fitness and better health. It is not so simple. In fact, those who exercise too much at high intensity tend to have similar health to those who do not exercise at all.
In addition to low libido in both men and women due to fatigue and hormonal imbalance, there is something called the female athlete triad. This is the combination of osteoporosis, missed periods, and eating disorders that can result from excessive exercise and caloric restriction.
While a healthy balance of exercise and recovery is great for supporting a strong and healthy immune system, overtraining can suppress it. Up to 72 hours after an intense workout, we have impaired immunity because the immune system is busy repairing and growing our muscles. Muscle repair is what we want, but keep in mind that it's easier for bacteria and viruses to invade and take hold during this time.
4-. Rest and recovery reduce the risk of injury
Soreness is usually a pretty clear indication that you're overtraining! Tendonitis and stress fractures are common in people who aren't serious about rest and recovery. These injuries are due to repetitive trauma and insufficient parasympathetic activity, which is the part of the nervous system responsible for healing. Without proper rest, your immune system can't keep up with all the repairs your body needs.
Whether you run, walk, or lift weights, prioritizing recovery reduces your risk of injury.
5-. Lack of progress? You may need more rest!
Has your exercise performance decreased? Have you plateaued or reversed those once-exciting physical changes? It's time to rest! Overtraining can kill your progress and even cause you to keep or gain weight, despite all the hard work you're putting in.
Don't stress about it! If you reduce the intensity, eat well and prioritize a good rest, you will soon be back to normal. Here's the thing; We don't get fit in the gym, in the saddle, on the road, or in the pool. Our workouts produce a stimulus that elevates our heart rate, breaks down muscle fibers, and causes our adrenal glands to secrete the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This lets the body know that things need to change, and the "getting in shape" part comes later.
The body adapts to the stress of exercise during rest periods. In other words, it is during rest and recovery that the desired physical effects of exercise actually occur. It's during our rest days that the magic of fitness happens! Mastering the art of recovery is key to achieving great results and maintaining a healthy and fitness lifestyle for the long term.
6-. Better sleep means you can handle more training
Overtraining is caused by exercising harder and more frequently than your body can handle. However, you may only be doing a moderate amount of exercise and still experience the effects of overtraining if you're not getting enough sleep.
To make matters worse, lack of sleep is yet another symptom of overtraining, so there is a danger of spiraling into a cycle. Sleep is very important to your general health and well-being. So much so, that a solid sleep pattern can help you train harder and more often.
7-. Good nutrition also increases exercise tolerance
Feeding your body well is essential to get the most out of your workouts. If your goal is to live in optimal health and fitness, a training program alone will not be enough. Nutrition is a fundamental part of rest and recovery, and is an integral part of any exercise program.
Everything you eat can help heal your body or add to the stress load. We all process certain foods in different ways, so always keep in mind which foods help you feel better.
However, there are nutrients that we all need to function and stay healthy. The right amount of protein is essential for muscle recovery and repair, while carbohydrates provide us with energy to train at our best, and healthy fats are essential to maintain our hormonal balance. And let's not forget about all those micronutrients that are vital to all of our metabolic processes! That is why at Ganbatte we choose to support our body daily with our Boost morning supplement, packed with micronutrients, and our Recharge evening supplement, designed to support recovery and rest.
Written by Ana Saiz
Co-Founder of Ganbatte Superfoods