Overtraining – How Do You Know If You’re Overdoing It?

Given the exhortations we’re always receiving to do more exercise, it feels slightly heretical to urge people to slow down. However, just as too much sitting around can be bad for you, so can too much exercise. If you ‘overtrain’, the effects upon your body and mind can be really quite bad – and run ironically counter to the effects most people aim to obtain via exercise. Rest is an important part of any exercise regime, yet an increasing number of people (perhaps fired by media hysteria about obesity levels and the Western sedentary lifestyle) are eschewing rest in favor of more time at the gym. This is a bad idea. Here’s a quick guide to ‘overtraining’ and how to spot the symptoms within yourself.


Signs Of Overtraining

We’re told more or less constantly these days that exercise is good for us and we should be doing more of it. In general, this is true. But it’s worth getting a sense of perspective on this concept before replacing your rest days with more cardio. The ‘more exercise’ recommendation is aimed at the worryingly large percentage of the population who live a sedentary lifestyle and eat unhealthy diets. If you’re already living an active lifestyle and working out several days a week, then you already have a pretty healthy relationship with exercise, and the ‘you must exercise more in order to be baseline healthy’ advice really does not apply to you. In fact, if you do exercise more, you run the risk of developing the following problems:

  • Muscle degeneration
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Physical weakness
  • ‘Flabby’ feeling limbs
  • Palpitations
  • Greater susceptibility to infections
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxiety when you cannot exercise
  • Body image problems

Why Does This Happen?

When you think about it, it’s reasonably obvious why your body struggles to cope with excessive amounts of exercise. When we work out, we put stress on our bodies, causing micro amounts of damage. Our bodies respond to this damage by not only healing it but building in extra resilience in order to prevent the damage from happening again. This is how we get stronger, gain stamina, and generally improve physically. However, if we go at it too hard, and never give our bodies time to recover, they’re naturally going to struggle. Muscles which are constantly worked out and never given time to repair and enhance will just get weaker. What’s more, if you’re exercising and dieting to extremes, your body will ultimately start to use your muscles as fuel – meaning that the more you work out, the less defined your muscles become, and the ‘flabbier’ you appear. Counterproductive, to say the least. Then there’s the fact that a body which is forever diverting energy into the muscles has to neglect other systems – like the immune system. This makes you far more vulnerable to infection. Perhaps most significantly of all, the unnaturally prolonged release of cortisol and adrenaline puts extreme strain on the brain, as does the fatigue to which you will subject it. This can bring on some serious mental health issues. All in all, it’s a pretty unhealthy way to treat your body and your mind. Worse, there is some evidence that prolonged excessive exercise can cause alterations in perspective (perhaps as a result of heightened stress and mental fatigue), leading people to develop exercise and body-related ‘anxieties’ which cause obsessive exercise behaviors. Not good.

What Can You Do About It?

The good news is that you don’t have to do much to combat overtraining. All you have to do is rest. If you have trouble with the idea of rest – if you see it as a ‘waste’, or as time which could be spent exercising – try thinking of it as an essential part of your workout regime. Build in rest days the same way that you would leg days, or arm days, or cardio days. You can even up the intensity of your non rest-days workouts if you want to – just be sure that you’re giving your body time to heal up, recuperate, and enhance through rest! Without rest, you’re potentially doing your body just as much damage as you would by spending all week on the sofa, stuffing your face with junk food. So work out, and work out intensely should you so wish – but intersperse your gym sessions with good, muscle-building, weight-burning rest!

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3 Reasons Why an Elliptical Trainer Might Be the Best Option for You

Sometimes it can be really difficult to know exactly what machine would be the best fit for your needs. A treadmill is often the obvious choice because it’s seen as a traditional option that you can’t go wrong with, but for many people it’s not the best candidate! Before you invest in a cardio machine, take the time to consider the lesser-known members of the family – the rowing machine, the stationary bike and the elliptical trainer. Each has their own merits, but this article will explore the elliptical trainer (or cross-trainer) in more depth. Read on to discover three reasons why an elliptical trainer might be the best cardio machine for you.

elliptical trainer

Do you: have injuries or joint pain?

Treadmills are great for cardiovascular fitness, but if you have existing joint or muscle problems they can have a jarring effect. This is particularly true for people with issues in their lower body – elliptical trainers take a lot of the impact away from the hips, knees and ankles, and offer one fluid motion with an optional level of resistance.

Do you: want to tone your legs?

Elliptical machines are great for toning your lower body thanks to their repetitive motion combined with resistance. Add to that the fact that they are great for increasing your heart rate and burning fat, and they are the perfect accessory to getting strong, healthy legs. Don’t just pedal normally, though; mix it up by reversing your motion and really target your glutes. Also have a play around with your body positioning. Drop back in a squat position to feel your quads burn, or go on your toes to hit your calves. Adding some variety into your elliptical workout can leave you feeling like you’ve just hit your lower body in a whole new way.

Do you: want a whole-body cardio workout?

When you run or cycle, your arms often just help you balance or hold onto a bar – not when you’re on a cross-trainer. The active motion and associated resistance means you have to use your arms, helping you engage more of your body (and burn lots of calories!). You also have to use your core so you don’t end up on the floor. This one cardio machine really can help you achieve your fitness goals, especially if you change it up by using interval training – base your intervals off speed, resistance, or both!

Don’t fall into the ‘treadmill trap’. There are many benefits to using other cardio equipment which can have a positive impact on your entire life. Whether you’re looking at injury rehabilitation, toning or improving your fitness level, the elliptical trainer really can help you reach your goals.

If you’re interested in purchasing an elliptical trainer, make sure you get a quality brand that gives you the opportunity to add variety to your workouts – specialist retailers like Fitness Market can provide great machines that will be perfect for your home gym. Have you used a cross-trainer before? What did you think of it?

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The Best Outdoor Sports for a Full Body Workout

The great news is that some of your favourite outdoor sports not only constitute great leisure activities, but they are also excellent forms of exercise that can give you a full body workout. This means that an impressive range of sports and activities can be effective in improving your overall fitness level as you build strength and endurance, while burning up calories and excess body fat.

Why Train Outdoors?

There are many good reasons to train outdoors. While some outdoor workouts do require particular equipment, most of the items that you need can be purchased from a company such as MOTackle or moved outside if they are transportable and not too heavy.

In the outdoors there is plenty of room to run, throw and be free enough to raise your heart rate and exercise at your peak. When you train outdoors, you have a welcome change of scenery to that experienced in sweaty and typically busy gyms. Another appealing benefit is that outdoor training is done technology-free – there are no screens featuring music clips or talk shows. Here are a few activity ideas to get you inspired.


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An outdoor sport usually done in winter, snow skiing involves both skiing and hiking. The motion used delivers an extensive aerobic workout with the each motion using the shoulders, back and legs. When skiing, it is possible to burn 600 to 900 calories in a single hour.


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Strapping on a backpack and going for a hike can be a great form of total body exercise. No matter how intense or how long the hike you take, a significant number of calories are burnt – all while enjoying fresh air and natural scenery. Not only does hiking burn calories, it can also be an effective way of increasing endurance and lower body strength.


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Of all the outdoor sports, running is renowned for being a highly effective form of exercise for increasing endurance, stamina and muscular strength. It is also an effective calorie-burning exercise. Very little (if any) equipment is needed to run and while you do not need any specific experience or training, you can increase your endurance and enhance your running style as you commit to this outdoor activity.


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Being able to ride a bike is often important when we are children but cycling as an adult presents a good opportunity for exercise and fitness. Increasingly, designated bike trails and lanes on roads make cycling safer, while off-road trails enable cyclists to travel through some beautiful and remote locations with stunning scenery. Cycling burns approximately 400 calories per hour, all while building strength in the lower body, and enhancing balance, coordination and overall fitness.


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A low-impact workout for every part of the body, swimming is a great outdoor sport that is a particularly appealing option for exercise in warm weather. In one hour, approximately 600-700 calories can be burnt and the actions performed as you swim enhance stamina, strength and coordination.

What other physical activities do you think belong on this list? What has given you the best fitness results? Share your thoughts below.

Regular Exercise: The Way to Glow

We all know that regular exercise is good for us. In fact, medical reports tell us that regular exercising actually reduces the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as strengthening our bones, muscles and joints.

As well as, just making us generally fitter, regular exercise can actually make us more attractive. This comes in the form of healthier hair, smoother skin, brighter teeth, improved posture and a more confident demeanour.

regular exercise

If you are thinking, ‘How can regular exercise make my skin look younger and feel healthier?’ Just read on.

1. Sweat

Exercising makes the body heat up and sweat. The increased blood flow to the skin when exercising causes the sweat glands to increase their function, helping to cleanse the body of toxins that can cause unsightly blemishes and pimples. These toxins may remain on the skin after exercising, which is why it is so important to shower after every workout. If you don’t shower after every workout, you may find yourself suffering from fungal or bacterial infections caused by dirt clogging your pores.

2. Muscle Toning

Whether you are strength training or cycling, these types of regular cardio workouts will help to firm and tone your body’s muscles. This in turn will give your skin a much healthier look and feel. Toned muscles help to support the skin, making it feel and look more firm and elastic. Toned muscle also helps to minimise the look of cellulite around the thighs and buttocks. You can’t actually exercise cellulite away, but you can help to minimise the appearance.

3. Improved Blood Flow to the Skin

Studies show that regular exercise boosts the levels of oxygenated blood to the skin, which can help with a number of skin conditions. This oxygenated blood carries with it nutrients to the skin cells, which help your skin to look clear and healthy. If you combine regular exercise with high quality skin moisturisers, you skin should stay in incredibly good shape for many years to come.

4. Ease Stress

Exercise is well known as one of the best ways to relieve stress. Stress is thought to have certain impact on your body, which can result in acne, or flair ups of psoriasis. If you are relaxed, you will look and feel a whole lot healthier than if you are suffering from stress or stress related disorders such as depression.

5. Your Complexion

During exercise, your skin starts to produce more natural oils. These oils help to give your skin a healthier glow and help in the prevention of spots and blemishes. After exercise, remember to cleanse your face to rid it of any dirt or toxins that have accumulated on the skin’s surface.

6. Reduce Puffiness

Regular exercise can help to reduce puffiness around the eyes and face. This is due to an improved Lymphatic flow, which helps to ease bloating and water tension issues. So, if you want those perfect eyes, it could be time to get your running shoes out and start hitting the trails on a regular basis.

7. Improved Hair

When someone looks at our face, they automatically notice our hair. So, to give your facial skin the best backdrop, you need to have healthy hair. Again with regular exercise oxygen rich blood is sent to the follicle, making your hair look more natural, shiny and healthy.

If you really want to look you best, you need to stick to a routine of healthy exercise and a well balanced diet. If you can discipline yourself to do this, you will stay looking good for many years to come.

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Health Benefits of Jogging

If there is one popular form of physical activity, it is jogging. Jogging is done by a lot of people who wants to maintain healthy and active lifestyle. The good thing is it can be done anywhere, even in your own yard, at any time. And most importantly, it is free. No need to buy any equipment or gadget to do it except for a good pair of shoes that will provide support. Though you might need to wear jacket on cold seasons to sweat, an old one that is enough to keep you warm will do.

Increasing the metabolism, toning the muscles, improving the blood circulation, and strengthening the bones, lungs and heart are some of the health benefits of jogging. 

Increases the Metabolism

Metabolism is what responsible in converting the food and drinks to energy. According to health experts, our basal metabolism decreases every ten years that we get older. Physical activities such as jogging can boost the metabolism even several hours after the jog. This increases the number of calories burn that will lead to weight loss over time.

Tones the Muscles

Jogging won’t give six pack but regular jogging tones range of muscles most especially on the lower body. The hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, hip flexors and gluteal muscles (butt muscles) and biceps are all working while jogging. Not to mention the heart which is also a muscle that works harder during jogging.

Strengthens the Bones

According to some experts the best exercise for the bones is the weight bearing kind like running and jogging. It keeps bone healthy by increasing the bone mass density. People who jog has higher bone mass density compared to non-joggers.

Strengthens the Lungs

Just like any other exercises, jogging improves your respiratory muscles. It improves the lungs capacity by increasing their abilities to transport oxygen throughout the body. If coupled with breathing techniques it will help those with breathing problems to breathe easier.

Improves Blood Circulation and Strengthens the Heart

One reason why fat builds up in the arteries is the lack of exercise. Excessive build up of plaque in the arteries and veins leads to poor blood circulation putting the heart at risk. Jogging improves blood circulation by stimulating the heart to pump harder. This increases the blood flow to other parts of the body and organs most especially the heart. It also helps to shed fat throughout the body.

Now that you know the health benefits of jogging, there’s no room for excuses. Look for your running shoes and start to jog. Besides it’s great to be outdoors and inhale some fresh air.