As gruelling as the days and weeks can sometimes be, or as energetic as you might even feel, and even as dedicated as you are to working out, our bodies also need time to recuperate. That means setting aside time to allow yourself some rest and relaxation. When you don’t give the body enough rest, it will often give off tell-tale signs to let you know when it’s feeling worn out – from fatigue, to general aches and pains, and other symptoms.
Getting regular physical activity is something Dr. Ghahary recommends, but it’s also possible to overexert yourself when doing so. One of the most common signs of overexertion is a new onset of insomnia. When you engage in vigorous physical activity, the CNS (also known as the Central Nervous System) becomes overstimulated, resulting in an inability to fall or stay asleep – and, as pointed out in previous articles, lack of sleep can be detrimental to the body in a number of ways. You might have a slower reaction time, decreased cognitive function, decreased immunity, and even increased irritability. While people used to regular physical activity will often not have any problems working out every day, those who are newer to physical activity (especially after being sedentary for an extended amount of time) should start slow and allow them one or two days of rest in between workouts. This will not only allow you to gain back your energy, but also allow time for your muscles to heal and significantly reduce your risk of developing an injury like a strain or sprain. It should also be enough to get your body back into its regular sleep pattern. If you’re still having problems with sleep, you should bring this up to your physician as soon as possible. In some cases, sleep problems do not have anything to do with physical activity and could instead be the result of other underlying medical conditions like sleep apnea, mental illness (i.e. anxiety or depression), asthma, and could even be environmental related. Another common sign that you need to give your body some rest is if your resting heart rate is elevated, which can also happen after vigorous physical activity. On average, a heart rate usually sits around 60 to 100 beats per minute for adults. The lower your resting heart rate is, the better your heart function is. However, if your resting heart rate is higher than normal (for example, above 100 beats per minute), then this means your body is working harder to pump oxygen to the recovering tissue and fix micro-torn muscles. As a side-note, your workouts will also start to feel harder the more you overexert yourself. If you want to stay active, something safe and healthy you can try while you take a day or two off from vigorous activity is yoga.
Soreness is not uncommon to experience after a workout routine, but if you’re frequently sore or experience frequent muscle cramps, joint pain, and even headaches, then these are all indicators that your body is breaking down, that there may even be some inflammation, and that it needs you to give it some time to recover. There are many ways you can find relief from muscle and joint pain, such as through physiotherapy, applying ice to the affected areas, or by taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. However, something else that has been found to reduce inflammation and decrease pain associated with cramps is Omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the best omega-3 sources include fish such as salmon and sardines, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed, as well as plant-based oils such as canola or soybean oil.
Your appetite can also be affected when the body is tired and hasn’t gotten enough rest. For example, you may simply feel too tired to cook, or you might actually have a decreased appetite. Eating is important, however – and even more important is making sure that the foods you’re eating are healthy. You also need to keep yourself hydrated. Not eating may decrease your energy level even further, cause hair loss, cause your body temperature to decrease and make you feel colder, cause you to feel shaky, dizzy, as well as other symptoms.