Two of the most popular New Year's resolutions are to exercise more and get in better shape. Many people start January with high hopes of big success, yet by March find themselves struggling to get to the gym and watching their home treadmill collect dust. What happened in the intervening weeks?
A simple thing called, "exercise burnout," most likely. "Positive enthusiasm often turns into negative because the individual forgets another key component of success: moderation," says Erica Tuttolomondo, athletic director at Rush-Copley Healthplex, a fitness center in Aurora, Ill.
While many believe the faster and harder they exercise the better; in reality, this can lead to physical and mental exhaustion. Overtraining can cause loss of appetite, lack of progression, extreme fatigue, and even recurring injury. The mind, too, needs time to adjust to exercise. "For many, the thought of exercising every day becomes a chore," says Tuttolomondo. And that's when many people quit.
Beat Exercise Burnout
"Spend a week evaluating current activities," says Thomas A. Fox, an exercise physiologist and author of The System for Health and Weight Loss. "Look at what you're eating, and even use a camera to help. Then it's easier to know what to change."
If exercising is new to you, start out slowly, gradually building up to a reasonable routine. Beginners should keep with the same routine for a couple of months. At first, you will notice physical and mental changes until eventually your body adapts to the routine and hits a plateau. At this point, it's time to add variety to the workout by using different machines or adjusting frequency, intensity, and time spent exercising.