You may have the best of intentions with your workout, but if you push yourself too hard you can wind up doing more harm than good. Overexerting yourself can cause acute physical damage, and overtraining for a long time can lead to chronic physical and psychological conditions. Save your health by paying attention to these signs that you're overdoing your exercise routine.
The first and most obvious signs of overexercise is pain. If your muscles start to hurt during your workout, that is a clear sign that you need to slow down. Your threshold will depend on your overall fitness level; if you're an exercise rookie, you will start to hurt sooner than if you've been hitting the gym for years. Even if you don't feel like you've been working out excessively, listen to your body and decrease the intensity if you feel any twinges of pain.
If you find yourself out of breath during your workout, you are pushing too hard for your fitness level. You may be inhaling more deeply than usual, and at a more rapid rate. One way to gauge your breathing is to try to speak. If you can't gasp out more than a few words without the urge to take a breath, you are overdoing your workout. If you find yourself breathless, dial down the intensity to a level that allows you to breathe more easily and speak freely.
If you feel too tired to continue your workout and find yourself quitting before you intended to (assuming you started out with reasonable goals), you are taking on too much. If you overdo your workout on a regular basis, you may also find yourself chronically exhausted. This can cause you to lose your motivation to work out, and can make you less enthusiastic in other areas of your life, as well. A healthy exercise routine will increase your overall energy, not deplete it.
While moderate exercise actually boosts your immune system, overdoing it has the opposite effect. Pushing too hard just one time can lead to a cold, and continuing a pattern of overexercise can cause serious health complications. After an overly-intensive workout session, you are more susceptible to illness for the next three days. In one study, exercise specialist David Nieman, Ph.D, found that 90 minutes or more of continuous, moderate-to-rigorous activity places excessive stress on the body.