Overtraining - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Monday, July 14, 2003


I'm Dr. David Vastola and Patrick's in here because he feels depressed. He's dressed like this because he tried out for the swimming team. He's been swimming about 3 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, really training hard - because the harder you train the better it gets, right? But he's become depressed - can't sleep, can't eat, and I've been thinking about putting him on some of these medications - Prozac, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Lexapro - these are some of the more common medications. But because he's working so hard at swimming, maybe there's another reason and he won't need these medications. It's called overtraining. Let me tell you about it.

Exercise specialists now know that you can develop depression-like symptoms by over exercising. It's just too much for you. An early study in 1987 looked at swimmers and they found when they decreased what they were doing by one half their performance increased and their symptoms of depression went away. These's another part of that called over reaching - it's not as bad. If you have that and you cut down your training you return to normal in about 1-3 weeks. But if you overtrain it can take up to 3-6 months to recover what you've lost and increase your performance.

So the bottom line when it comes to training, exercise or any kind of athletic event is: don't overtrain because your performance is going to go down. It's not how hard you work it's how smart you are.

And I'm Dr. David Vastola and that's life.

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