We’re constantly hearing that exercise will give us more energy. Tired? Work out and you’ll feel better!
For the most part, this is true. However, when taken to extremes, exercise can make you feel completely exhausted. If your workouts are too long or too intense, you might finish your session wanting to crawl into bed and stay there for the rest of the day.
What’s too much? For most people, high-intensity workouts should be less than 30 minutes and moderate-intensity workouts should be less than 60 minutes. In other words, if you’re doing interval work or sprints, keep it to 30 minutes. If you’re lifting weights and doing the elliptical, keep it to 60 minutes.
Pushing too hard or too long not only makes you tired; it also causes your body to produce more cortisol, a hormone released when your body is stressed. Long, hard workouts cause just as much bodily stress as a tough day at work. When your body releases cortisol, it thinks it is under attack and starts holding on to fat in case things get worse. So now you:
- Think you burned a lot of calories, which may or may not be true.
- Feel exhausted.
- Start storing fat.
Not a good story! So what can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you? Plan your workouts in advance. Make sure to stick to your time limits. Your workouts should still be challenging, though, so don’t use this as an excuse to slack off at the gym. Use your breath as an easy way to determine how intensely you’re working. If you’re breathing hard for more than a few seconds, you’re probably doing a high-intensity workout. If it’s difficult to carry on a conversation (but you can still talk), you’re probably working out at a moderate intensity. If you can chat easily, pick up the pace!
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