Recognizing the Signs of Stress From Exercise Over-Exertion

Wednesday, February 06, 2008 by: Teya Skae
Tags: physical fitness, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) It's actually a fine line between peak-training and over-training. In our keen efforts to achieve optimal fitness or build that lean, muscular physique, our diligent training can sometimes create more harm than good. Here's why:

What are the symptoms of over-training?

* Tiredness, bordering on apathy

* Chronic fatigue

* Insomnia

* Injuries that do not heal

* Loss of lean muscle tissue

* Frequent colds and infections, due to a lowered immune system

* Biochemical depression

* Craving stimulants caffeine and sugars

* Having a tough time getting started in the morning

* Muscle cramps, due to mineral deficiencies

* Feeling 'brain-dead'

How can we prevent overtraining?

There is a common misconception that stress is bad for us, but the truth is in some instances it can be quite enjoyable, even addictive. For example, a cup of coffee with sugar is actually a biochemical stress; driving a car in traffic is a stress; work, family, relationships and bungee-jumping are also common sources of stress that we might face in our daily lives. In order for our mind/body system to function effectively, it actually needs some type of stress to get it going.

Stress stimulates our adrenal glands (those responsible for the fight/flight responses) to release very powerful hormones called 'adrenaline' and 'cortisol' to help our body deal with the incoming stress. These hormones are so powerful that they affect not only our whole physiology, but our moods, energy levels, behaviour and general well-being.

What does stress have to do with our training?

According to neurologist Professor Paul MacLean, our human brain is actually a 'triune' brain that is comprised of three distinct sections, see ( .

Reptilian brain: controls muscles, balance and autonomic functions such as breathing and heartbeat. This part of the brain remains active, even during deep sleep.

Limbic brain: is concerned with our emotions and instincts, as well as digestion, elimination, fight/flight response and sexual behaviour. This emotional system responds according to what is 'agreeable' or 'disagreeable' to us. This is the level where we are consciously and unconsciously avoiding pain and seeking pleasure.

Cerebral Cortex: is the logical, rational thinking part of the brain. The place where our ego/identity resides and the part of our brain that feels safe when it is in control of situations.

According to Professor MacLean's research, the interaction between the three parts of our brain are as follows: the cerebral cortex has no influence or control on the primitive brain, but the primitive parts (limbic and reptilian) hijack the thinking brain during times of stress. This explains why people often become irrational, forgetful, spacey or highly emotional when under stress.

Overtraining will add stress on top of stress

If we are already challenged with the amount of stress in our life (whether work-related, study, exams, promotion, relationships or finances) our reptilian/limbic parts of the brain are activated by the stress hormones which, in turn, activate our survival programs to help us deal with it.

As we've mentioned, the primitive brain does not respond to the commands from the rational thinking brain; instead, the limbic/reptilian survival centres take their instructions from the adrenaline pumping through our system. And since our reptilian brain controls muscles and movement but is incapable of rational thinking, it is also unable to distinguish the difference between running away from a lion, running away from an executive boss, a deadline, or running on a treadmill; all it knows is that it is running for survival.

This explains how too many high-intensity workouts can push us into the over-training zone, particularly if our body is already challenged and stressed due to other areas in our life.

Over-training ties into the fact that hormones work in pairs. When adrenaline is released in response to stress, the even more powerful hormone, cortisol, is also released into our bloodstream. Excess cortisol stimulates glucose production and simultaneously catabolizes (breaks down) lean muscle tissue for energy. This is obviously not a good outcome for anyone on a fat loss program or for someone trying to build lean muscle tissue.

Putting it all into action

Having health and fitness goals are helpful, as long as the goals are not so rigid that they override our inner instincts or our biorhythms, to push us into over-training mode.

Our bodies do not speak the language of verbs and nouns like we do; instead, communication occurs through symptoms. For example, low energy levels, aches and pains are our body's way of telling us to ease off, rest and recuperate.

It is a fine line between optimal training and overtraining, and only your body knows where that line is. Be sure to listen when it's trying to tell you you've overstepped the mark and need to back off. After all, when it comes to over-training, pain has no gain.

About the author

Teya Skae M.A. ATMS
Corporate Wellness Presenter/Researcher and Author
As the founder of Empowered Living Teya has developed a results based I.D.E.A.L Solutions for increasing your energy, focus and personal Success!
Teya is also a QUIT smoking specialist with proven results in one session guaranteed.
For Tangible Results and Solutions to Fat Loss, Physical, Emotional and Mental Fitness visit

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