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Impact of Prolonged Training Session on Health

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Prolonged training sessions of repeated rigorous exercise lead to tiredness, reduced performance, and even injury, which can harm health. Read further.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Arpit Varshney

Published At November 7, 2023
Reviewed AtMay 6, 2024

What Is Exercise?

Exercise is retraining the body to perform better, enhance overall health and wellness, promote fitness, and stop the progression of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obesity.

What Is Overtraining?

When an individual overcomes their body's ability to recuperate from hard exercise, they engage in overtraining. Those who overtrain experience a decline in performance and a plateauing of their progress as a direct result of their inability to perform at a certain level continually. Exerting oneself beyond one's physical capacity or engaging in prolonged training sessions is hazardous because it can result in various acute and chronic health issues.

  • Short-Term Effects: Exercising over an extended period can have a material impact on one's mood and energy level. Overtraining can result in exhaustion and low energy, leading to irritability, rage, disturbed sleep, and a lack of enjoyment and attention. An increased risk of fractures, muscle strains, runners knee, joint pain, tendinitis, and bursitis are all associated with this condition. In addition, the individual can develop overuse problems such as tendonitis, tiredness, or tendon tears due to not providing the injury induced by overtraining with the appropriate amount of rest.
  • Long-Term Effects: Excessive physical activity, which can eventually lead to renal and heart damage, is one of the causes that can have these long-term impacts.

What Are the Signs of Over-Exercising?

  • Musculoskeletal Injuries: The soreness in the muscles would last for a significantly longer period than the typical timeframe. As a result, there would be the risk of both clinical and subclinical injuries, inhibiting athletic performance. In addition, the subclinical injuries would cause repetitive tissue trauma either to the muscle or the connective tissue in low magnitude force, harming the bone structure. This could result in chronic inflammation. Because of this, an ankle sprain or even a stress fracture could result.
  • Decreased Immune Response: Excessive exercise has been linked to an increased risk of infections affecting the upper respiratory tract. Excessive exercise also suppresses various immune components for an extended period after intense exercise training. A decline in neutrophil function would characterize a weakened immune system, serum or salivary immunoglobulin concentration, natural killer cell count, and cytotoxic activity in blood cells, among other immune system components. In addition, the sustained tissue stress that might lead to injuries during strenuous exercise would release biochemicals that would decrease cell-mediated immunity. This would make the injuries more likely to occur.
  • Increased Injuries: Muscle damage occurs when there is an imbalance in the relationship between the load being trained and recovered from and the training itself. Damage to a muscle causes an immediate and sustained decrease in the function of the muscle, which in turn lowers its capacity to generate force. Muscle twitching can be caused by overtraining, which can lead to cellular and subcellular muscle damage. Prolonged exercise can decrease force production, increase inflammation within the injured muscles and blood, increase the appearance of muscle protein in the blood, and muscular soreness and glycogen depletion in the muscles.
  • Constant Fatigue: Long-term physical activity can put the neurological system into overdrive, lowering performance and exercise capacity. In addition, since carbohydrates are broken down more quickly during prolonged exercise, lactate generation is increased. A high lactate level is related to an increased release of hydrogen ions, which leads to muscular acidosis and muscle exhaustion.
  • Irritability and Low Energy Levels: Low energy levels are brought on by an inappropriate energy balance, which is linked to a reduction in body weight brought on by improper food intake. Since athletes are expected to consume a diet with a low total amount of calories, it is possible that this type of conditioning can cause eating disorders and irritability among athletes.
  • Weak Bone: Excessive exercise and overtraining may raise the chance of developing osteoporosis at an earlier age. This is because excessive activity reduces the production of sexual hormones, increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis could develop due to a drop in estrogen levels in women or a rise in testosterone levels in men. In addition, even a mild deficiency in nutrition would cause individuals to have inadequate amounts of protein and calcium in their systems.
  • Female Reproductive Dysfunction: The exertion from an individual's exercise to an extreme degree could result in gonad dysfunction. The exercise-related female reproductive dysfunction is prevalent in female athletes. It is associated with typical developmental phases in female athletes, such as delayed puberty, insufficient luteal phase development, and anovulation.
  • Male Reproductive Dysfunction: As a result of excessive exercise, there would be a reduction in the levels of the hormones, particularly corticotropin and the growth hormone. A low testosterone level in the blood can cause hypogonadism symptoms, such as low spermatogenesis and oligo gonadism, and can impact the ability to reproduce.
  • Sleep Disorder: Sleep disturbance may be brought on by a disruption in the circadian rhythm, an imbalance in the neuroendocrine system, or changes in psychological and behavioral patterns brought on by excessive training. In the same way that it happens when someone is sleep deprived, there would be an increase in the amount of catecholamines and cortisol secreted.
  • Workout Plateau: As a result of a higher training capacity and intensity, a workout plateau can stop any progress made and cause general tiredness for a longer period.
  • Effect on the Cardiovascular System: Due to transient acute volume overload of the atria and other heart-related issues causing artery stiffening and coronary artery calcification, a prolonged training session or exercise can cause adverse structural and electrical cardiac remodeling. This can cause fibrosis and remodeling of the atria, ventricular, and large arteries, which can cause arrhythmias and increased cardiovascular risk. In addition, research has linked strenuous exercise to acute injury that can result in myocardium scarring.
  • Depression or Anxiety: Excessive exercise can adversely affect mental health, causing depression, decreased motivation, aggression, and eating disorders. In addition, the individual would feel frustrated owing to poor performance, which was brought on by insufficient recovery, overreaching, and overtraining.

What Is Compulsive Exercise?

An elevated urge characterizes a disorder known as compulsive exercise for physical training, which leads to uncontrollable excessive exercise behavior. This behavior can have negative repercussions, such as injuries and poor social relationships. Therefore, excessive exercise can be dangerous.

How to Recover From Overtraining?

  • Rest: Recovery from overtraining would benefit from rest, which may even mean temporarily discontinuing any exercise when it is deemed appropriate. During this phase, the body repairs and builds itself; the muscles and immune system would participate in the recovery. The body would be more susceptible to injuries if adequate rest is not provided.
  • Nutrition: The body cannot function without adequate nourishment and a healthy diet. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the three main components of complete nutrition. Protein and carbohydrates work together to provide the necessary nourishment for muscle tissue. Carbohydrates are essential for athletes who compete in endurance events, and consuming protein can assist in the development of muscle strength and power.
  • Gradual Training: The difficulty level of physical activity can be avoided using progressive training, and a slow progression combined with a steady pace helps achieve greater results.

How to Prevent Overtraining?

Clinical management would benefit from identifying the risk factors for excessive exercise. In addition, it is important to provide athletes and those diagnosed with the symptoms with health education.

  • Maintain a Record of Workouts: A training plan would reduce the likelihood of strain and injury, making it possible to achieve the desired level of fitness or activity safely and efficiently. Keeping a record of the variables introduced during the workout to keep track of the physical changes that have occurred due to the introduction of the variables will be helpful. It assists in focusing on the positive aspects of training and eliminating the negative effects.
  • Restoration of Activity: Active recuperation is required for the body to adapt properly to any form of physical training.
  • Balance Training: Both a periodization of the workload and a well-balanced and gradually increasing training level are required. A variety of workouts, interspersed with periods of relaxation, should be undertaken in cycles.
  • Alternate Days: An excessive amount of training could hinder the recuperation of the muscle, especially considering that taking a few days off between workouts helps the body replenish its strength and contributes to muscle growth when combined with regular exercise.
  • Balance Diet: For the body to function at its highest potential, it needs the proper nutrients. Processed food that has been pre-packaged would not provide enough nutrients. In addition to proteins and carbohydrates, a diet has to include healthy fats. Including all of the elements would be necessary to supply nutrition to support the proper functioning of all hormones in the body, the brain, and the nervous system. Consuming enough protein is essential since it plays a role in maintaining and fostering the growth of muscle.
  • Hydration: A sufficient intake of water is necessary for all of the body's functions to be carried out, and maintaining adequate water consumption is necessary to avoid being dehydrated, especially during periods of physical activity and workouts. A dehydrated tissue is more likely to sustain an injury because fewer nutrients are available for the tissue to receive that are necessary for its healing and restoration. In addition, tissues that have lost their moisture are less flexible and have a greater propensity to accumulate waste products.
  • Take Steps to Alleviate Tension: Progressive muscular relaxation is made easier with the support of the stress reduction approach, and exercise can help with rest and recuperation.

Conclusion

An excessive amount of training may be counterproductive to the overall fitness aim. Create a workout routine that includes a variety of activities and is balanced to meet the needs of each individual in terms of their fitness level and aspirations. Those who are physically active may be more likely to have this condition. The chance of developing this condition increases when an additional stressful event occurs during physical activity without sufficient time for recuperation. The purpose of this effort is prevention. A periodized training regimen and the specially allotted time for recuperation and rest should be used to avoid protracted training.

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Dr. Arpit Varshney
Dr. Arpit Varshney

General Medicine

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