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Fitness & Health

27th Sep 2019

When shouldn’t you work out? The signs you need to be aware of

A gym session is one of the most effective stress busters around. But there are times when a willingness to work out could be doing more harm than good

Alex Roberts

A solid gym session is one of the most effective stress busters available

But there are times when your unbreakable willingness to work out could be doing more harm than good. Hitting the gym hard is a proven method for releasing endorphins and boosting your mood. However, there are times when overdoing it could actually increase stress levels and negatively affect your ability to recover.

Experts from Firstbeat, an advanced performance analytics company, told JOE why it’s sometimes best to rest.

1. If you’ve had an extremely stressful day

For the vast majority of people, work is stressful. Training might seem like a release, but you need to realise it is also a big stressor.

If you’re overly stressed, intense training could prove counterproductive.

Firstbeat experts say: “Heavy exercise further stresses the body, elevating the heart rate significantly and even releasing more cortisol, the stress hormone. Long term elevated cortisol can lead to lower immune function and bone density, increased weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease.

“Heavy exercise late into the evening can also affect your body’s ability to slow down into ‘restore mode’, meaning you won’t be able to recover as much overnight. Easy exercise, such as a light evening walk or stretching, is usually a much better alternative after a stressful day. This also will help to prepare you for a good night’s sleep.”

2. When you’re hungover (or before you get bladdered)

After a big night out, you should definitely skip that attempt at a new bench press PB. Your sleep quality will be seriously compromised.

Nigel Stockill, Performance Director at Firstbeat says: “Just having as little as one unit of alcohol in your system at bedtime can delay the onset of restorative sleep by around one hour. Having just two large glasses of wine (approximately 6 units) late in the evening and sleeping for six hours means you may not get any restorative sleep at all, and therefore won’t recover overnight.”

3. A poor night’s sleep

If you haven’t slept sufficiently, you will not be recovered. In most cases it is best to skip the heavy session and focus on a rest and relaxation protocol before hitting the hay.

Keeping a to-do list and writing down what you’ve achieved can help you nod off.

4. If you’ve hit the gym hard the day before

There’s nothing wrong with training on consecutive days, but sessions need to be scaled and scheduled according to their intensity.

Firstbeat say: “Heavy training sessions really take their toll on the Central Nervous System. If you have taxed the CNS severely the previous few days, it may be best to rest if you are tired, sore and not feeling 100%.

“Even if it is in your diary to train legs for instance, it is important to listen to your body and adjust the training plan if needed, e.g. if your body is sore or very fatigued after previous training.”

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