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HEALTH > Working out is not always a good thing

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Exercise is like a drug, say experts, if you have too much, you have problems.

Exercise is like a drug, say experts, if you have too much, you have problems.

Constantly thinking about the next workout? Upset about missing an exercise class? Fitness experts say more is not always better and overdoing workouts can sap strength and invite injury. “We have fit people and deconditioned people who overdo it,” said Geralyn Coopersmith, national director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute.

“Exercise is like a drug, if you don’t have enough, you get no benefits; if you have too much, you have problems,” she said.

Shin splints, heel spurs and tendonitis are among the common overuse injuries that Coopersmith, who oversees the training of personal trainers for Equinox fitness centers, sees. “Some days should be intense, some days not so intense,” she said. “Exercise is a stressor. If it’s too much, the body can break down.”

Extreme fatigue, irritability, moodiness, an elevated resting heart rate, fever, and an inability to work at your earlier level are among the signs that you’ve overdone it, she said.

California-based group fitness instructor Amy Dixon has broached the subject of overtraining with her clients, she said, but delicately, and only when they were ready to listen.

“I had a woman come in before my [indoor] cycling class,” said Dixon, creator of the “Give Me 10” DVD series. “I’d see her on the treadmill for an hour, then she’d take my class, then after she would ride longer or go on the elliptical [trainer] for another 40 minutes.” Poke an exercise addiction, Dixon believes, and you’ll often uncover another addiction.

“Maybe they’re a binge eater, or they really party on the weekend,” she said. “If you’re working out morning and night, you’re over-trained. Your body’s getting beaten up.”

June/05/2012

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