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When to Push Past the Pain, When to Take a Rest Day

January might be the sweatiest month of the year. It probably won’t come as a surprise that physical fitness tops the list of common goals for the new year — after all that delicious holiday eating, getting more exercise seems to be on everyone’s mind.

But while getting into shape is a worthy goal, going about it the right way is key. Ramping up too quickly, exercising too much, or overtraining can actually hinder your progress. These are a few warning signs that you’re pushing too hard.

You Have Nagging Pain or Inflammation

When it comes to exercise, it’s all about no pain, no gain… right? Not necessarily. While some muscle soreness can be expected 24 to 72 hours after a workout, it shouldn’t last. If you experience persistent pain, soreness or inflammation, you may be overdoing it. When your body is constantly sore, it’s not getting the nutrients and rest it needs to repair and recover.

Your Heart Rate Remains Elevated

As you increase your training regimen, your resting heart rate should lower. If your heart rate remains elevated even when you’re not working out, that’s a sign that you’re overtraining. Overdoing it may lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, causing your resting heart rate to increase. If you notice that your beats per minute are higher than they should be, that’s a sign to dial it back (and stay hydrated!)

You Feel Sick

If you’ve got a case of the sniffles, should you push past it and workout? Not necessarily. If you’re feeling ill, give yourself a day off (or a few) to rest and recover. If you keep pushing your body too hard, you can weaken your immune system, leading to inflammation and greater risk of injury.

You’re Experiencing Overfatigue

Feeling mentally or physically groggy? Has your drive to work out disappeared? You may be overfatigued. Exercising should increase your energy levels so if you’re experiencing low energy, it’s time to take a break. Over time, over fatigue may lead to irritability, depression, insomnia and diminished appetite, none of which contribute anything positive to your body or mind.

There’s a reason why getting fit is on the top of so many New Year’s resolution lists, but overdoing it doesn’t do you any favors. When your body tells you it needs a break, listen. Taking time to rest and recover allows your body to repair and grow, helping you reach your fitness resolutions in a healthy way.