Why You May Need to Exercise Less

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Exercise is a major component of a healthy lifestyle, and the benefits of regular physical activity are well established. When adopting a Paleo lifestyle, modifying your fitness routine to include more high intensity exercise can bring great benefits to energy, body composition, and overall fitness.

However, there are many people who take their physique and physical fitness to an extreme level, particularly in the Paleo community. Certain styles of exercise take the participant to a state of physical exhaustion on a regular basis, which may do more harm than good.

While a consistent, high intensity workout routine may provide some benefits for those people looking to lose body fat and increase their strength and fitness, there is a fine line between training hard and overtraining. While running fast and lifting heavy may be major components of an active Paleo lifestyle, engaging in these physically demanding activities too regularly or too intensely can contribute to many different symptoms of overtraining.

Overtraining goes beyond just excessive “chronic cardio” or too many hours spent at the gym. Certain high-intensity exercise routines may push the body’s stress response too far, leading to a cascade of biochemical responses that can cause serious damage to one’s health in both the short and long term.

While short, intense workouts can be great for inducing fat loss, increasing aerobic capacity, and reducing risk for cardiovascular disease, excessively intense exercise can cause a variety of health problems, especially for those dealing with other concurrent stressors such as autoimmune disease, gut dysbiosis, or adrenal fatigue.

Overtraining has been shown to affect blood levels of important neurotransmitters such as glutamine, dopamine and 5-HTP, which can lead to feelings of depression and chronic fatigue. The stress caused by intense, excessive exercise can negatively affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, possibly causing conditions such as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is known to cause depression, weight gain, and digestive disfunction along with a variety of other symptoms. As we know, high stress in general can cause symptoms of hypothyroidism, and the stress caused by excessive, intense exercise is no exception.

Another major effect that extreme exercise has on our bodies is an immediate increase in cortisol, the hormone that is released when the body is under stress.

Heavy-resistance exercises are found to stimulate markedly acute cortisol responses, similar to those responses found in marathon running. Chronically high levels of cortisol can increase your risk for a variety of health issues, such as sleep disturbances, digestive issues, depression, weight gain, and memory impairment. Excess cortisol also encourages fat gain, particularly around the abdomen.

When a goal of exercise is to lose weight or improve energy, overtraining can clearly be a major barrier to achieving those goals.

Overtraining can also have harmful effects on the immune system. Research has shown that the cellular damage that occurs during overtraining can lead to nonspecific, general activation of the immune system, including changes in natural killer cell activity and the increased activation of peripheral blood lymphocytes. This hyperactivity of the immune system following intense overtraining can possibly even contribute to the development of autoimmune conditions.

This type of nonspecific immune response is associated with symptoms such as chronic fatigue, weight loss, decreased appetite, and sleep changes. Altered immune status is also known to affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, and may be responsible for the hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction and hypothyroidism known to occur in overtrained athletes.

Mark Sisson talks about the different signs of overtraining, which may be more common in endurance training but is nonetheless possible in high intensity training as well.

Feeling ill or rundown, losing muscle mass, gaining fat, and constant exhaustion can all be signs of excessive exercise of any type. Not only is this counterproductive to most people’s fitness and health goals, but it is also a sign of sickness.

In the path to better health, any activity that makes you more fatigued and more prone to infection is definitely something to be avoided.

So does this mean you should quit CrossFit, or stop pushing towards your weightlifting goals? Not necessarily.

Here are a few techniques to avoid overtraining while still enjoying high intensity exercise:

  1. Reduce the frequency. While pushing yourself hard at the gym is not inherently problematic, doing it too often during the week is overtraining. High intensity, high stress exercise should be limited to two or three times a week, especially for those who are dealing with other health issues such as autoimmune conditions or digestive troubles. Compounding those stressors with extra stress from your exercise routine will not leave you healthier, and can easily cause you to become more sick.
  2. Get adequate rest. I’ve written before about how important sleep quality is for health. Not only is taking breaks from exercise important, but getting adequate sleep to allow recovery from intense exercise is vital to avoiding the overtraining syndrome. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep, particularly on the days you train. Interestingly, one symptom of overtraining is disturbance of sleep, so if you’re feeling restless and having trouble sleeping through the night, you may want to reconsider the intensity of your training schedule.
  3. Mix it up. While high intensity exercise may be ideal for losing body fat and improving lean muscle mass, we know that high levels of cortisol can cause the body to hold onto fat. For this reason, you may consider trying a type of exercise that can help modulate your cortisol levels. Some may knock yoga as being too easy to affect weight loss, but regular yoga practice is shown to reduce cortisol levels, which may help in reaching your weight and fitness goals. Instead of doing a fourth day of CrossFit, try doing a yoga class instead. You may find that this stress reducing exercise helps you recover more quickly from your more intense exercise schedule.
  4. Eat more carbohydrates. While cutting down carbohydrate consumption is often seen as the best way to decrease body fat, a combination of overtraining and low-carb eating can actually raise cortisol significantly and negatively impact immune function. There is also a possibility that very low carbohydrate (VLC) diets suppress thyroid function, a debate thoroughly discussed by Paul Jaminet on his blog. So if you’re regularly doing high intensity training and want to avoid symptoms of overtraining stress, don’t skimp on the carbs!
High intensity exercise can be a great way to improve body composition and enhance your general health, if done the right way.  As with all components of our lifestyle changes, the key is moderation and listening to your body.

If you choose to participate in these high intensity training programs, always use your best judgment and don’t let coaches or fellow athletes push you past your comfort zone.

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  1. Not to talk about ¨myself¨ but it may help others that are similar….I do HIIT OR functional & balance training OR strength training in the winter 2x per week for about 3 months. I run 6-10 miles in the spring, summer and fall 2 or 3x per week. I cycle/spin indoors year & 1/2 hour of weights after year round 1 or 2x per week. I never do all of this in the same season or more than 4/5 days per week all together. The few times I have (6 or 7 days per week and too much HIIT, weights, running, etc..) I’m exhausted, slow, crabby, heavy leg feeling and slight weight gain. It’s so obvious that my body is overworked at this point that I need to completely rest by only walking, yoga, rollerblading for about a week. Everyone has different levels of fitness, you really need to listen to your body.

  2. My problem is that I get sick every time I try to exercise. I walked 5 minutes for 4 days, 10 minutes for 7 days, 10 minutes and then a couple hours later 5 minutes on the 12th day and that night laid on the couch with congestion and coughing and asthma and a fever that lasted for a month. I battled it out not wanting to use antibiotics, trying to support my adrenal glands. So 2 months later – 2 months of Vit C, B, multi, magnesium, adrenal support – I walked for 5 minutes for 5 days. On the morning of the 6th day (yesterday) I had slight congestion. Didn’t walk yesterday, not walking today, but I’m going to try another 5 days of 5 minutes. sigh. I finally found a site that said not to do very much exercise as people suffering from adrenal fatigue don’t have much energy. I was thrilled beyond belief to read that, I felt vindicated. Nobody believes me when I tell my story. But at the same time, I read that exercise helps the immune system…so I will walk and see what happens. Because 5 minutes is better than no minutes…I used to run…sigh…

    • Hi,

      Just a suggestion on your walking routine. I am a physical therapist, and I used to work with individuals in chronic pain, fibromyalgia, etc. on progressive exercise routines. Sounds like you are doing too much for your body. Try something like this:
      walk 5 min for 2 days, then 1 day of rest. Do this cycle 4 times no matter how good you feel and think you can do more. (so 12 days). Then do 3 days walk for 5 min, 1 day of rest. do this for 3-4 cycles. (so 12-16 days). Then increase the time on the 2nd day to 7-8 min. So 5 min Day 1, 7-8 min Day 2, 5 min Day 3, rest day 4. Also do this for 2-4 cycles, depending upon how fast you find yourself recovering. Then increase to 10 min on day 2. Keep the 3 days on/1 day off cycle going. Let me know if this plan is helpful, I can help you extend it out as you increase your endurance. It also may need to be modified in some way depending on your response, such as 2 days on/1 day off while increasing walking time.

      Also, I believe you are experiencing more than “adrenal fatigue.” Do you have a physician or practitioner that you work with? This sounds more like chronic fatigue syndrome and their are alternative treatment methods that can help you recover.

      • Jenn, THANK YOU :). I had already decided not to ‘barrel through’ on the exercise, and your program looks lovely. I will start this tomorrow and am pretty excited. It looks like a very nice way to build endurance. And I am impressed with me – the 12 program was me being all tough and walking it off…not so cocky now…grin. I also appreciate your mention of CFS. I gave it a look before replying, and I THINK that isn’t me. I seem to be responding, slowly – but responding – to the adrenal fatigue program. I don’t have any pain and only got the sore throat when I over exercised and even then it was mild. I am sleeping okay and the naps I am able to get during the day don’t affect my night and do seem to help. I will do more looking at CFS just to be sure. And unfortunately I don’t have a doctor with whom I can work…when I went to see him and discussed what I was doing he was all for exercise, in spite of my getting sick. He is a good doctor, but I think that what I’m reading is true – not a lot of belief in Adrenal Fatigue. I live in a tiny, small, notbig, miniscule country town :). But thank gods for the internet and people like you. Thank you a lot.

        • You are welcome.

          Sounds like your best bet would be working remotely with a practitioner. I live in the Portland, OR area and ND’s are everywhere here, though it gets expensive paying out of pocket. Adrenal fatigue an be caused by a myriad of things- anything from nutritional deficiency, over exercise, chronic infections, chemical exposure and environmental toxins, psychological stress, etc. A practitioner can help untangle all that and do various testing to help you heal faster and more completely.

          I have been recovering from chronic fatigue myself and didn’t think that I fit into that category, but an ND did, and he has helped me quite a bit in the last 5 years. 3 years ago I saw a fantastic, progressive internal medicine doctor (they see complicated cases all the time)- I paid $500 out of pocket since he is not in network with insurance. He said he believed that I didn’t feel well, but couldn’t find anything wrong, saying I “was a very healthy sick person.” Mainstream medicine only has so much to offer. He also encouraged me to exercise more, since at the time I wasn’t doing a whole lot because I felt so terrible.

          You may want to look into using heart rate variability (HRV) technology, such as with BioForce HRV for monitoring recovery or Wild Divine’s programs for improving meditation and parasympathetic activation/stress management. They are really cool tools!

          Good luck to you on your journey! Just reply to this thread if you have more exercise questions down the road.

  3. I’ve been exercising mainly cardio everyday 5-6 times a week 45 -1 hr sessions for 2 years. Only 1 month ago I woke up not feeling well, depression, fatigue, flu, insomnia. My body could not longer cope with all the stress, my adrenals overrun, cortisol through the roof. I do believe it’s a health risk and that there should be much more awareness raised against this crazy movement towards over obsessing with exercise and the detrimental effects it can have on our body.

  4. I’d like to point out how frustrating it can be when an article references published studies but doesn’t provide a citation.

    According to the study in the link below, cortisol levels decreased almost 30% after the control group worked out intensely for 12 weeks. Levels were nearly unchanged when the participants consumed a drink with carbs.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/18845978/

    If we could see the references used, we might find that dangerous cortisol levels were only reported during exercise when a synthetic cortisol deravitive was taken.

    I am not in disagreement with you on being cautious about overtraining and any diet (I am not paleo but do exercise regularly at varied intensities). However, I cannot find anything out there that links the two to cortisol induced memory loss. Those that do are all studying stress, which impact the adrenals very differently.

  5. Please disregard my comment, I see how you hyperlinked the citations. Thank you so much for your expertise!!!

  6. Can you post the citations of the sources of your information? Wanted to show my endocrinologist this who has proclaimed me as “not working hard enough.”

    For over 10 years I though the only way to “workout properly” was to follow my high school cross country routine, well at least the “light day” workouts: 45 min of elliptical/stair and a 6 mile run topped off with 45 min of intense weight training. A hard day would be all that except with an 8 mile run.

    Needless to say my weight crept up every year. Scores of doctors told me the same things constantly; eat less workout more. I’d be in tears trying to explain how much I worked out and they would either shake their heads in disbelief or just not say anything. My parents paid for personal trainers, they told me that i need to work on my diet, are you kidding me? Nothing worked. I developed an eating disorder because I was desperate to follow the doctors advice: “you aren’t working hard enough” aka “quit being lazy” .

    The only specialists that were able to help me were my RD’s (registered dietitians). My first one told me simply that we’re gonna lose weight by quitting the workouts. I lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks.

    So anyways, citations of your sources would be great and much appreciated. 🙂

    • I know this reply is 2 yrs later but i have a similar problem to yours & wad hoping you could give me further advice.

      Thanks.

  7. hi, pleasehelp me! I have been having this pain in my stomach whenever I eat . so, I taught it was because of the diet and the workout because they say your belly shrink when you start doing portion control. it happened once back in december I went to my doctor he gave me a shot because I had the flu at the same time. but it happened again. I feel full when I am weak and hungry. it I try to eat I will feel pressure on head and will have a little pain.
    I workout out everyday sometime without recovery, I try to eat under 100g of carb. I workout everyday for at least 2 hours. I do weight training and cardio. sometime twice a day. I just started drinking a chinese oolong tea and taking fat burning and cleansing.
    I was thinking of stopping everything first before I go back to my doctor
    My questions are
    Am I doing it too much?
    do I need to see a doctor now ?
    do you think I have too much going on at the same time.

    by the way the pills give me headache when I drink them. please guys help me, I am scared. I am doing the training on my own so I don’t know how much is too much

  8. What if you have been “over training” for 3 or 4 years and restricting calories at the same time…how do you get out of that or reverse that? I am a person who exercises at high intensities most days of the week, including Bikram yoga (sometimes even twice a day), running and weight training as well as having fitness and moving around as my job. I have restricted my calories in the past to about 1500 or less (I am 5’1″ and currently 110lb). I feel like I either need to quit exercises which makes me depressed because it is also a part of what I do for a living or stop eating. No matter what I do the high body fat won’t budge.

  9. What about walking? Is it detrimental to walk too much? I’m talking about at slow paces here like no more than 2.0 mph. I try to walk for a couple of hours everyday spread out throughout the day. I am TIRED by the end of the day. Does that negatively effect your body? I don’t do intense exercise except for some dancing here and there and usually it isn’t that intense. Didn’t our grandmothers even walk a lot everyday such as walking everywhere they went?

    • I started a new job about 6 weeks ago, walking upto 28-30km a day. Getting fatter, even though food is clean, no energy or time for gym. Walking is gay.

    • Brit , 20 minutes of walking is all you need..People if you are over 30 , your body will not recover like you were in your 20’s…If depends on what type of work you do as well .If you have a slow pace job like desk work , 30 minutes is max for walking >>if you have a full labor job , then 10 minutes of walking if all you need…

  10. Very interesting all around, but for me the bottom line is MOVE. I’ve been Jazzercising for 30 years at least 4 days a week, and I just dance. Half the time I forget I’m working out, and believe me I am. Loud music, good choreography, fun and sweat. It’s the best stress relief around. I did need to add more muscle work as I got older, so now I do yoga on the off days. The two compliment one another beautifully. Best of all, I don’t have to calculate it or analyze it. Eat real food with few ingredients and be able to pronounce the ones there are. No mainstream industrial “food.” Then just dance. 🙂

    • Great idea Emily. I tap dance & DDP Yoga. I thought I had to do high intensity to get fit. So it’s great to see others successful in this kind of workout schedule. Thank you.

  11. I found this article after doing some research on my symptoms.
    I have been doing exercise programs such as Crossfit/P90X/Cathe Frederich Tabata drills and HIIT/ The New Rules of lifting for Women and the Spartan Workout for the last 5 years. I try to lift 3 days a week and do 2 to 3 days of cardio. I also have digestive problems that continued to get worse over the past 5 years. I was also limiting my calories to no more than 1800 at the very most per day, dominated by protein. About 2 years ago I started to experience horrible fatigue and “body heaviness” – it was hard just to lift my leg to take a step. My mind just did not seem to be able to form thoughts much less get what was in my mind to my mouth. I also started to get reoccurring sinus infections and upper respiratory issues. To top it all off I started to gain weight and fat!! My legs now have fat all over them that I did not have before, my abdomen started to grow!! I was desperate so I went to a different personal trainer requesting help. He confirmed I was overweight (5’8.5 @ 135 lbs) he put me on a rigorous workout routine and a 1400 calorie diet for 3 months. I did not drop any fat and gain any muscle instead I gained more fat!! After a scary experience of not being able to even hold my head up due to the weight, 3 hours after a workout, I decided to change my diet and add in more fats and healthy carbs. I found a book called Trim Healthy Mama. I felt better for about a month, then the fatigue came back, muscle soreness, constant frontal headaches, post nasal drip etc. In reading the above and some other articles I match some of the symptoms, except decreased appetite. If anything I am hungrier – but that could be due to the fact that I had cut out so many foods thinking that they were problem foods, fats being one of them. My question is how can a stay at home mom, working out no more than 30 minutes a day, with fat deposits, be overtraining!? I thought this was only a professional athletes problem/worry.. The harder I work, the heavier I lift the more fat I gain!! The more calories I cut, the lumpier I get!
    Can someone break this down for me?

    • Sorry to take so long to reply to this!

      You over-trained for a long time and under-ate for a long time. Your metabolism is damaged, and you likely have pretty severe adrenal fatigue. You’d be best to find an ND or FDN practitioner (that’s a naturopath or functional diagnostic nutritionist) to get on a healing path quickly. You will likely gain fat at first (maybe for 6 months give or take) as your body recovers, metabolically and hormonally.

      Stick with light exercise- walks, easy yoga, etc. Nothing where you are straining, getting out of breath for more than 5 minutes, and you should definitely not feel tired the next day, or 2-3 hours later. If so, that is a sign you over did it.

      Make sure to eat regularly- no skipping meals. Eat every 2-5 hours to keep your blood sugar stable and so that your body feels secure that it is getting the nutrients it needs. You starved yourself for a long time, and so your body has been hoarding fat thinking it is in a famine.

      Be kind to yourself as you recover. Getting some mental health help (counselor, psychologist) to change your habits and your mindset will give you faster progress.

      Good luck! I am mostly recovered from chronic fatigue, but it is a long road. My pituitary and stress hormones are still out of whack, and may be for years to come because of the chronic stress that induced the fatigue in the first place.

      • Jenn – Thank you so much for your feedback! I did find a Naturalpath and was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue, Hypothryoidism, and my progesterone and estrogen were not even on the hormone blood panel test, as well as sluggish digestion (due to eating so much protein every 2 hours). It was told to me to eat every 4 hours instead of every 2 hours like I was. So I eat Trim Healthy Mama meals w/lots of veggies and fats (like coconut oil, Red Palm Oil, Butter). I have started to gain weight, of which I am not happy about but don’t know what to do. According to your reply that is going to happen? I am currently taking Adrenal Cortex supplements for my adrenal fatigue, Armour for my thyroid and an herbal tincture for the balancing of my hormones. I have been told that it could take up to a year to heal my body? I am not liking the fat that is appearing everywhere :(… So much conflicting advice all over the internet – found one lady’s blog who said to do HEAVY weight lifting while healing adrenal fatigue??

        • My husband and I have both worked with Scott Hagnas, of Crossfit Portland. He wrote the menu part of Robb Wolf’s the Paleo Diet Solution Book. You might find a consultation with him helpful. Make sure to ask direct questions, as he is mellow and doesn’t necessarily offer advice unless asked. His email is Scott(at)crossfitportland.com

          He’s a pretty smart guy and has done a lot of research and experience both with himself and clients in your type of situation. He recommended to my husband and I to lift weights, heavy is ok, but not so heavy you are straining. The idea is to minimize over-taxing the sympathetic nervous system and minimizing stress hormones. So that is why weights are good vs. cardio vs. HIIT (though some HIIT done at an intensity that does not make you want to throw up is ok). I try to keep it to feeling like 70% as hard as I can do, because I am probably actually working harder than that. Don’t do 1 rep maxes- 3 reps or more. Don’t go to fatigue or exhaustion. Be careful with exercise, as part of the reason you got yourself here was through over-exercise.

          Once you are eating to restore your metabolism, the body will gain weight because the metabolism is still low. Keep eating, and the metabolism will normalize and then so will your weight. This was not my problem (I’ve always been a good eater- eating less than 1800 calories feels like starvation to me, because it is!) but it was my husband’s problem who was “eating like a pre-pubescent girl” not because he tried to eat low calorie but because he just wasn’t hungry. With eating more, he went from about 120 or 125 lbs up to 145 and has now decreased to maybe 138. He is still a bit chunky, but SO much healthier now. We expect his weight to normalize more in the next year as he continues to heal. He is also taking supplemental hormones due to hypothyroidism and not making enough testosterone (too much aromatization turning testosterone to estrogen). His sleep and energy have improved tremendously over the last few years. His memory is better as well.

          It may take a year for most healing to occur, possibly several years more to fully recover. I got hit with fatigue from chronic stress 6 years ago and I am mostly better but not normal yet. It will be several more years before I can trust myself with exercise to exhaustion, and I may never compete again because it’s not healthy for me physically or psychologically. I really want to CrossFit again, but have a bad track record with it! It is just too much stress for my system to exercise like that. My workouts now are more like a crossfit warm-up, which is plenty for good health.

          Scott also does something called a BioSignature bodyfat analysis, which can analyze hormone balance via skinfold fat measurements. It is through the Poloquin training. I have benefited from this analysis, as every time I go, I go in feeling fat, and then Scott tells me that my hormones are normalizing and I feel better. I still have signs of excess cortisol (excess fat in tummy area), but it’s actually DECREASED there since exercising A LOT LESS and making my life more much more mellow. I still have progress to make before I’m “normal” though.

          So don’t freak out, have compassion for yourself as you heal. Focus on the good things you are doing for yourself and keep the long term goals in mind. Your body will lean out when it’s ready.

          Jenn

      • Hi Jenn,

        Reading some of your comments on the thread and I would love to get your opinion on my condition please.

        About 5-6 years ago I was really obese. Then over 5 years I lost 100+ lbs. I became a fitness dude. Things like running 10Ks 2-3x a week, lots of strength training, cycling etc. During that period I was also probably undereating. For a 5’11” – 28 year old guy I was on no more than 1700-1900 (net calories).

        Then around a year ago I started getting all forms of tendonitis issues all over. Achilles, pectorals, groins, etc. All my training came to a screeching halt. Then about 3-4 months ago I decided I needed some PT to get myself back on track. And that is when disaster struck. One day while seeing my PT, he made me do a whole bunch of strenuous exercises, stuff I wouldn’t normally do when healthy. Then he did a “back cracking” massage to “release tension”.

        Over the next 3-4 days I started developing flu-like symptoms, extreme fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and pains. Every day I would feel like I have run a marathon the previous day. I am able to do basic stuff and get to work (desk job) but I can’t walk sustained for 10-15 mins+ without really feeling it, especially 3-4 hours later. I always feel “depleted”.

        Anyways, long story short, I saw a functional medicine practitioner. We did many tests and it turns out my liver isn’t doing great and I have omega-6 and zinc deficiency with very low omega-3 levels. I also seem to get cortisol spikes in the morning and afternoons but DHEA is normal.

        Magnesium, Vitamin B12, Iron, etc were all normal. Vitamin D was on the low side.

        The FMP thinks I have plenty of deficiencies from the years of overtraining/undereating. I would like to believe him but I a m a little skeptical as the results dont show major deficiencies. I also was feeling ace (without the tendon problems) up until that PT session.

        As a PT yourself who also seems to have had fatigue, do you reckon he is right? Is my issue just food really and I have to just keep eating my way out of this?

        I’ve turned Paleo since my issues started, prior to that I was on a low fat diet I would say, I tried steering clear of anything greasy/overtly fatty. I ate carbs though and focused LOADS on lean meats. Like athlete level maybe.

        I donno, I am so lost. I am not functioning very well these days and I am filled with dread and anxiety. So much so that I struggle to do the most basic things at work these days. Worried about my future and if things will ever get back to where they were. Or worse, if I will get back to being fat again which is my worst nightmare.

  12. I am not weight training. I am a 57 year old female trying to get my life back after 18 months of sleep deprivation (which put 35 lbs on me) and i want to know WHY after bending over with or without a LITTLE excursion, my belly (cortisol fat) gets offended and poofs up even more. Driving me absolutely and completely NUTS.

  13. I’ll give you the short version of my story. At the age of 48 I decided I might want to try a Body Building a competition. I was already in the gym 5-6 days a week, mostly weightlifting with heavy protein supplementation. I had already experimented with Paleo but in an effort to rid myself of all my fat I stumbled upon Keytosis. I won’t bore everyone with the process but I was purposely peeling on a PH Stick to ensure I was “in Keytosis”. At the same time I moved from an all my life light and strict lifter to, trying to break personal records.
    What a disaster… All that stress on my body.
    My issues began with Neuropathy and inflammation at both elbows and within a year it hit my cranial nerves. Today my body continues to be under attack and no matter what I do I can’t seem to break the cycle of dysfunction. Good health to all but take it easy!!

  14. In my opinion, both over training and adrenal fatigue are diagnoses confusing symptoms with disorders.

    Acute over training is a real difficult condition to obtain. With 55 years of regular training, worse I’ve ever experienced is episodic fatigue mandating an extra day or two off with plenty of deep naps! The bounce back stronger.

    Over training isn’t really a term found in exercise physiology, instead more of a popular diagnosis made in absence of much science. An old Soviet technique for determining over training is to urinate on a pH stick upon arising from bed in the morning. If too acidity, you’re over trained most likely – or not getting sufficient vegetables to buffer acidity.

    Alt,med needs to go back to the late 1930s pioneering work of Hans Seyle, The Stress of Life. With Seyle, today’s arbitrary if not patently straining of credibility distinctions between physical versus psychological stress are not found. And they shouldn’t be found anywhere. Our ancestors were equipped for fight/flight amygdala reactions to threats from predators. Today we live in acute to chronic stress. Stress is not additive, it’s systemically synergistic. Adrenal fatigue is way downstreet from real upstream causes.

    The principle cure is noetic – applying techniques facilitating voluntary control and choice based on neuroplasticity – moving from knee jerk reactions to any kind of stress to rising above them, thereby disempowering them. That applies to training in a profound manner.

    My forthcoming book Original Nature, Essential Nature – The Three Pillars of Longlife Fitness & Wellness will be the user’s guide to your life you weren’t born with.

  15. Let me ask you all something…when an animal spots a predator/prey, does it run 90% intensity for 20 seconds 8 eight times with 30 second rests in between, or does it run all out as hard as it can and as long as it takes to survive? How often is it forced to do this? When it is not running for it’s life, what kind of physical activity does it get? We are all animals, and we will never have fitness figured out until we take a good hard look at these kinds of question.

    • While interesting to ponder, your position presupposes exercise physiologists have not taken such an isolated fact into account.
      Contemporaries should not be confused with remote ancestral forms of human development: those ancesters were active and fit from birth were they to survive. Few today enter ‘fitness’ with a solid conditioning background from birth. What’s more, unlike ancesters driven by limbic responses to environmental threats and opportunities, our range of conditioning benefits from sciences emergent with social evolution of human culture. Perhaps we might live up to the term sapiens or wise.

      All things considered, we’re in a far superior position to craft appropriate fitness programs, even targeting specific types of skill development, than were our pre-linguistic ancestors living on pure fight/flight reactions.

      Trouble with paleo orientations to fitness is an increasing tendency to gear them to a fictional construction of ancestral humans. Sisson has done that with his Grok, but matching it with fairly sensible exercise. Why he chose Grok is a mystery since among hippies of the 70s being Grokked meant being stoned on acid.

  16. Hi all thanks a lot for your contribution helps a lot. Though I always read the same thing about overtraining and how it can be prevented.

    Why don’t we speak more about how it is to be overtrained so people learn.

    Ie I was a training gym/mma/boxing running preparing for local competitions all of a sudden about a year ago I fell while training. Since then weird symptoms started evolving – anxiety attacks – fatigue – exhaustion – muscle spasms – foggy brain – memory losses – speech difficulties – irritability -severe exercise intolerence. Did a zillion tests all negative except one very low level of hormones cathecolamines. 3 months later I was better so started to exercise again (80% of what I was only) then boom comes another crash 4 months later. Its been now 4 months that my symptoms evolved to : morning fatigue – focus issues – pins and needles in the face and hands – severe exercise intolerence meaning 10 push up would make me feel worse for a while – neck pain – headaches – anxiety from time to time.

    My questions are :

    1) is this overtraining? knowing that I was obviously training too hard too much not sleeping a lot.
    2) why do we always speak about decrease of performance and never about incapacity of doing exercise ?
    3) does anyone ever experienced this ? Is it linked to sport ?
    4) how do we overcome it? Been taking 4 months off totally of any workout now. I just wish I could only do pushups for now…

    Thxaa lot for your help and contribution.

    Much appreciated

  17. I’m having a major stress response from several emotional traumas and dealing with other major stressors and chronic sleep deprivation with it. I withstood a lot before it finally was too much. I can feel in my body and my brain that my neurotransmitters are out of balance, and little stress now affects me disproportionately. I’m working hard at healing this – organic food, omega 3s, st. johns wort, trying to sleep well. It is a complex dynamic to put back together. Question – is it possible that even a little exercise, which I’m not used to, except for yoga, can raise my cortisol too much now that my stress system is all desensitized? Example, I just went for a bike ride, tried to take it easy, and feel whoozy and can feel it in my head. I understand that exercise is perfect for rebalancing neurotransmitters and the hormonal response. But if someone is that far gone, can a bit of exercise be damaging? Do you have any suggestions as to how I can carefully and slowly but surely put myself back together? Thank you.

    • How long did you ride your bike for? How long do you think you could ride without being symptomatic during or afterwards? Perhaps your tolerance may be as short as a few minutes to start.

      • I also think my stress hormone dynamic is dysregulated. It shows up in my sleep, anxiety, apathy etc. How can I begin to repair this if even a bit of exercise leaves me exhausted. Would one thing like St. John’s Wort start to repair the dynamic of cortisol burn out?

  18. Hi Chris,
    I have had hashimotos nearly 20 years and its controlled and I have been road cycling more and more. Last weekend I did 100 miles and the following week starting Monday my thyroid was swollen. I make my doc test me frequently… tests on Wednesday showed normal T3/T4/TSH/Thyroglobulin but elevated TPO at 62. This is terrible, the only way to manage that I know so far is to train less, which I don’t want to do!!! What do you think, is there something I’m overlooking that could get be back out on the mountain? –Thanks!

    • If it seems to fluctuate most with your exercise level, then I would guess there’s some adrenal imbalances still going on. You may consider focusing on low intensity, long duration type workouts where you’re not putting unnecessary stress on your adrenals and see how that affects your levels – especially when there’s also the chance you may not be recovering adequately from your workouts with pre/post-workout meal timing etc. Also, remember that Hashimoto’s is an IMMUNE issue, not necessarily a thyroid issue primarily, so looking to things like adrenal health, gut health, Vitamin D status, hidden infections/overgrowth etc are basic places to start. Just some initial thoughts based on your comment.

  19. Fitness nowadays is big business and the thought of less exercise may make a lot of people sigh in relief.
    My thoughts are that if any exercise regime is planned correctly it should not be discouraged.

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<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper qc_box_container_wrapper gform_legacy_markup_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_9' ><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' id='gform_9' class='qc_box_container gform_legacy_markup' action='/why-you-may-need-to-exercise-less/comment-page-4/' novalidate> <div class='gform_body gform-body'><ul id='gform_fields_9' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id="field_9_1" class="gfield field gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_9_1' >Email<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk">*</span></span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_1' id='input_9_1' type='email' value='' class='large' placeholder='Your Email' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_9_2" class="gfield health-concern field field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_9_2' >I want to improve my...</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_select'><select name='input_2' id='input_9_2' class='large gfield_select' aria-invalid="false" ><option value='' selected='selected' class='gf_placeholder'>I want to improve my...</option><option value='Weight' >Weight</option><option value='Energy' >Energy</option><option value='Digestion' >Digestion</option><option value='Brain' >Brain</option><option value='Overall Health' >Overall Health</option><option value='All of the Above' >All of the Above</option></select></div></li><li id="field_9_4" class="gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_4' id='input_9_4' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='2528' /></div></li><li id="field_9_5" class="gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_5' id='input_9_5' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='Gut Health' /></div></li></ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_9' class='gform_button button' value='Download eBook' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_9"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_9")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_9")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_9"]=true;} ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_9"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_9")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_9")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_9"]=true;} jQuery("#gform_9").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_9' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='9' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_9' value='WyJbXSIsIjVkYTAyNjYxOTg4ZDNhZGQwOTU0Yzc4NDcyNDk5YmM4Il0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_9' id='gform_target_page_number_9' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_9' id='gform_source_page_number_9' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='popup_name=Gut+Health' /> </div> <p style="display: none !important;"><label>&#916;<textarea name="ak_hp_textarea" cols="45" rows="8" maxlength="100"></textarea></label><input type="hidden" id="ak_js" name="ak_js" value="120"/><script>document.getElementById( "ak_js" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() );</script></p></form> </div>
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