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Health & Medical Guide

The importance of rest

Regular exercise has been linked to a host of health benefits. People who exercise regularly can lower their risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and routine exercise can improve mood and potentially delay the onset of cognitive decline.

As vital as physical activity is to a healthy lifestyle, there is such a thing as too much exercise. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, rest is an important part of training. Without ample rest, the body does not have time to recover before the next workout. That lack of rest not only adversely affects performance, but also increases a person's risk for health problems, including injuries that can sideline athletes for lengthy periods of time.

Committed athletes may have a hard time recognizing when they are pushing themselves too hard, and the line between perseverance and overdoing it can be thin. Many athletes credit their ability to push themselves mentally and physically with helping them achieve their fitness goals and thrive as competitors. But it's vital that athletes learn to recognize the signs that suggest they're exercising too much. The USNLM notes that the following are some signs of overdoing it with an exercise routine.

• An inability to perform at your established level

• Requiring longer periods of rest between workout sessions

• Feeling tired

• Feeling depressed

• Experiencing mood swings or irritability

• Difficulty sleeping

• Feeling sore muscles or heavy limbs

• Suffering overuse injuries such as runner's knee, achilles tendinitis, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis

• Loss of motivation

• Getting more colds

• Unintended weight loss

• Feelings of anxiety

The USNLM urges anyone experiencing these symptoms to rest completely for between one and two weeks. After that period of rest, the body should be fully recovered. However, if any of these issues linger after two weeks, seek the advice of a health care provider. A health care provider may recommend additional rest and/or conduct a series of tests to determine if an underlying issue is causing any of the aforementioned symptoms.

Rest is as vital to an effective exercise regimen as proper technique, ensuring the body has ample time to recover and reducing the risk of overuse injuries.

The Niagara Gazette