Have you ever had a hangover? I’m not talking about a hangover from New Year’s Eve or your 21st birthday. I’m talking about a “workout hangover,” where you’re sore, overly fatigued and/or nauseous with a general malaise that impacts your everyday life. Welcome to the quintessentially American phenomena of too-much-of-a-good-thing. Yes, there is such a thing as over-exercising and yes, it can affect your life.
A new study done by OnePoll of 2,000 physically active volunteers on behalf of LIFEAID Beverage Co. found that more than half of those who exercise regularly have suffered a workout hangover that impacted other aspects of their life. One in four subjects in the study have skipped out on work due to an exercise hangover; 55% have felt so bad that they stayed inside all day; 40% have skipped a party; and 32% have canceled a date due to being hungover from an exercise bout that was too long and/or too intense. Even more disconcerting is the fact that 65% of the participants have sustained an average of three injuries a year from their workouts.
There are numerous factors during a workout that can result in you leaving your exercise bout feeling sick, sore and whipped. Dehydration is a big player. According to the American Council on Exercise, your body needs plenty of fluids to keep it functioning efficiently during and post-exercise. Being dehydrated at the end of your workout can leave you feeling extremely tired, lethargic and nauseated with unusual muscles soreness. ACE Guidelines say that most active women need around 91 ounces of water daily and men need about 125 ounces. Come to your workout hydrated and replenish your body’s water supply early and often. However, be aware that overhydration can lead to hyponatremia, which occurs when the sodium levels in the body are too low. Hyponatremia can make you extremely nauseated, and can even be fatal.
Your blood sugar levels are also involved in both the quality of and recovery from your exercise routine. Low blood sugar combined with a vigorous workout can result in dizziness, nausea, shaking and general weakness. If you’re clueless on how to fuel for exercise, pick up “Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook” — you’ll get an education that will last a lifetime.
You may need to replenish your electrolyte balance after a workout. The LIVESTRONG website says that sweating depletes your body’s natural reserves of potassium, calcium and sodium. There are myriad sports drinks to help you solve this problem or you can simply make sure your diet includes those electrolytes.
Last, but not least, is overtraining — the most common cause of feeling poorly after a workout. Doing too much, too soon and being too intense in your exercise regime offers up a whole host of negative physical and psychological consequences. Mood swings, decreased motivation, depression, anger and irritability, anxiety and loss of confidence and concentration lead the psychological symptoms. The negative physical responses to over-exercising are decreased body weight, elevated resting heart rate and resting blood pressure, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and unexplained nausea.
Here’s the scope on exercise dosage — the benefits of exercise are front-end loaded; a moderate amount of exercise reaps most of the benefits. Can you get more fit working out longer and harder? Absolutely, but know that greater frequency, duration and intensity also increases the possibility of negative consequences.
A word of caution for those who are hooked on CrossFit, Insanity, P90X, Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and their ilk — the body keeps score of every physical trauma. You may not get that scorecard until you’re 50 or older, but rest assured that the body’s keeping score.