Many exercisers make the mistake of working out so hard that when they are finished, they are completely exhausted. They may go home or take a nap. Some may reduce their overall activity for the day so that by the end of the day, they may have actually expended less energy than they would have had they not exercised at all.

We want exercise to rejuvenate us, not tire us out. If you find you are too tired to take the stairs, to walk to perform errands or if you find yourself regularly needing sleep after workouts, you may be exercising too hard. 

Although it is important to regularly overload the body, there is a difference and a fine line between overloading and overtraining and it’s important that you know the difference.

Overtraining is when you have done more than your body is capable of handling.

If you are overtraining, you may experience some of the following symptoms.

If there is no healthy explanation for any of the symptoms below, you should reduce the intensity and volume of your training and consult with your physician: 

Ongoing and/or extreme muscle soreness

Continual decrease in normal workout performance

Persistent colds, headaches, injuries or other illnesses

Loss of appetite

Intestinal problems

Loss of lean tissue

Ongoing fatigue

Changes in mood or attitude

Unexplained losses in body weight

Cessation of menstrual cycle

As a general rule, it’s important to space out vigorous workouts and race events to allow for adequate recovery. 

Do you need a rest day?

How do you know if you’re just being lazy or if your body is fighting something and needs the rest? 

When the alarm goes off, if you’re tempted to press the snooze button and you fall right back asleep, that can be a sign your body needs some extra rest. If you just lay there wide awake, you probably just need to psyche yourself to get up and go. 

If you’re feeling tired, get up, open the blinds, grab some water, and walk around. Usually by moving around, you start to wake up and feel better. If you’re still feeling exhausted, the rest may be more important.

It’s important to note that a workout will stimulate your immune system, but if it’s already being challenged, it can suppress it and take it over the edge. 

Many experts agree that one rest day per week is a healthy approach to a fitness regime and assures that your body is allowed enough time to repair and recover. That doesn’t mean you have to lay around on the couch all day eating and watching TV. You can still be active and go for an easy hike, walk or bike ride, but don’t worry about pushing the pace or getting into your training zone. Just enjoy being active!

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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