While moderate exercise (about 2.5 hours a week) can help to lower your blood pressure by enabling your heart to use oxygen more efficiently, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) warns that over-training can lead to increases in your resting heart rate and blood pressure. ACE defines overtraining as “constant, intense training that does not provide adequate time for recovery.”
Other signs that you need to re-think your fitness regimen may include loss of appetite, coordination problems, digestive issues and sleep loss. Over-training may also decrease your body’s ability to fight infections. As important, it can lead to increased risk of injury.
The solution is to gradually increase your training intensity, giving your body plenty of time to adapt. Avoid constantly exercising to the point of exhaustion, and start back slowly after an injury or illness.
Just as every movie has a beginning, middle and end, plan workouts that start with a warm up and end with a cool down. Other solutions include working different muscle groups on different days. If your muscles are sore, exercise other muscle groups and give the sore ones time to heal. Another way to help prevent over-training is to break up your workouts into smaller increments throughout the day. Researchers believe that 10 minutes of exercise several times a day can give you the same benefits as doing that same amount of exercise all at once.
And one final piece of advice: don’t fall into the trap of dwelling on your training, which may increase your stress levels throughout your day. Establish other priorities and try to relax when you’re not working out.