Even if you can't live without your daily runner's high, you might want to think twice about jogging or running seven days per week. Although it's possible to jog or run everyday and never experience any problems, most people are susceptible to injuries and other serious problems related to overtraining. If you need a daily endorphin fix, there are alternatives to jogging that can do the job without overtaxing your body.
Overtraining is a condition that hasn't been extensively researched. Nevertheless, as "The New York Times" explains, the condition is real. The main symptoms of running or jogging too hard for too long are poor performance -- you can't run as far or as fast as normal -- exhaustion and apathy. Overtraining can occur without warning, and recovering from the condition can take some time. In fact, the only known cure is rest and a break from training. Some sports medicine experts recommend taking three to five days off. Some athletes need to take a break for two months or more.
If you have an overwhelming need to jog or exercise every day, you might be suffering from a psychological disorder known as compulsive exercise. Compulsive exercise often is associated with eating disorders in women. The National Eating Disorders Association lists a number of factors that may indicate your exercise routine has become obsessive, including a constant preoccupation with exercise, even if you don't find it pleasurable, and an inability to take a rest day, even if you are hurt or sick. Compulsive exercise can lead to the female athletic triad, sometimes called "Energy Drain." It consists of three related and serious health problems: disordered eating habits; amenorrhea, which is the absence of three or more consecutive menstrual cycles; and brittle bones, the result of low estrogen levels, which leave you at risk for fractures and bone loss.
Jogging can strengthen your bones, muscles, heart and lungs. However, as the University of Rochester Medical Center explains, "A simple fact of physics has made jogging more dangerous than walking for the human body. Objects that fall further and faster hit harder." The pounding your lower body takes from jogging can damage your feet, shins, knees, hips and back. Running every day increases your chances of injury.
If you exercise every day, you might want to consult a sports medical doctor or physical therapist to see if you are risking injury or overtraining. If you can't stop running because it has become compulsive, you might want to consult a different type of therapist, since compulsive exercise can be a serious psychological condition. While it's good to be physically active on a daily basis, there are excellent low-impact exercises that you can substitute for running, including walking, swimming or riding a bike. Getting a sufficient amount of rest is critical to good health, so it might not hurt to take a break from jogging one or two days per week.
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