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Woman out of breath at the gym

If you’re feeling inexplicably rundown after a workout, you may not have recovered enough from an earlier sweat session. Exercise stresses your body, and you need to recover to rebuild it stronger than before. Watch for these telltale signs that you need more R&R.

  1. Your workouts feel like work. This is often the first subtle sign that you’re not recovering enough. Our bodies usually let us know when something isn’t right; we just need to listen.
  • Rest for a day, then exercise at half your normal intensity and duration for several more days before resuming your normal routine.
  1. You hurt — all the time. Are you sore, or do you hurt? Delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) is common and probably doesn’t mean you’re under-recovered. Joint pain, on the other hand, can be a sign that you’re overtraining.
  • Make sure you’re hydrating and replenishing electrolytes. Prioritize protein to provide the building blocks for recovery.
  1. You feel weary, crabby, or grouchy. Or all three. Do people keep asking what’s wrong with you? You may be burning up energy reserves during training. Exercise should make you feel better, not worse.
  • Cutting back on calories during training to get leaner faster can be counterproductive. Recovery means eating to fuel your body and support resilience.
  1. You toss and turn all night. Excessive exercise stress can make it tough to sleep, and lack of sleep creates chronic stress — a vicious cycle.
  • Try improving your sleep environment: Lower the temperature to the 60s at bedtime. Keep your room as quiet and dark as possible. Chances are, if your sleep improves, your recovery will as well.
  1. You’re sick — again. Exercise usually boosts immunity, but too many intense sessions can hamper it.
  • It’s OK to exercise through a cold, as long as you lower the intensity. Don’t overload congested lungs, though. As a rule, if your symptoms are below the neck — or you’re suffering from a fever, nausea, or diarrhea — stay in bed.

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