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Why Am I Always Tired After Working Out? Uncovering Overtraining for 40 and Over

by Emma Mattison – NASM, CPT, CNC and Functional Aging Specialist

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Mid-life woman looking lethargic and worn-out from over-exercising, representing the effects of overtraining through parasympathetic and sympathetic responses in a blog article.

Hello, dear readers!

It's Emma here. Many of you know I am passionate about helping the 40 and older community stay fit, vibrant, and healthy. But today, I want to address something I've seen many clients struggle with – overtraining. If you have ever asked yourself, "Why am I always tired after working out?" or even, "Is too much exercise bad for you?" you're in the right place!

You might be thinking, "Emma, isn't more exercise always better?" Surprisingly, that's not always the case, especially as we age. Let's dive into overtraining and how to know if you might be doing too much.

What Is Overtraining?

At its core, overtraining happens when we push our bodies too hard without giving them the necessary time to recover and heal. Imagine you're driving a car non-stop, never pausing for fuel or maintenance. Eventually, it breaks down, right? Similarly, overtraining occurs when we push our bodies past their limit without adequate rest, leading to performance drops and potential health issues (Kreher & Schwartz, 2012).

The Two Faces of Overtraining

Illustration depicting the two faces of overtraining: contrasting visuals of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems' responses to excessive exercise.

There are two main types of overtraining: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. Let me explain the two examples.

Sympathetic Overtraining:

Think of this as the "fight or flight" overtraining. It's what might happen if you decide, out of the blue, to run a marathon without enough preparation or engage in high-intensity workouts every single day. Your body is always "on edge." Symptoms might include:

  • Feeling agitated or restless

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Losing your appetite

  • Getting sick more often

(Meeusen et al., 2013)

Parasympathetic Overtraining:

This is the "rest and digest" overtraining. Picture it as the outcome of doing too many long, drawn-out exercises, like back-to-back yoga marathons. Your body feels sluggish.

Here's what you might notice:

  • Constant tiredness or lethargy

  • Feeling down or unmotivated

  • Sleeping more than usual but still feeling exhausted

  • Prolonged muscle soreness

(Meeusen et al., 2013)

Why Is Overtraining More Critical for the 40+ Group?

As we age, our bodies naturally take a bit longer to recover. The vigor and resilience we had in our twenties might not be as pronounced now. Overtraining can increase the risk of injuries, hormone imbalances, and weakened bones. And honestly, who has time for that?

50-year-old exerciser looking fatigued and exhausted post-workout, highlighting the effects of overtraining in mature athletes.

How Can You Tell If You're Overtraining?

Pay attention to how you feel. Are you constantly tired despite sleeping well? Are your muscles sore for days after a workout? Or maybe you're feeling moody and irritable? These could all be signs. Remember, our bodies are great communicators. It's up to us to listen.

Aside from the symptoms mentioned above, a helpful tool professionals employ is the Heart Rate Variability (HRV) test (Plews et al., 2013). It observes the time gaps between heartbeats. An unusually low or high HRV can indicate overtraining. However, always consult a healthcare professional or personal trainer for an accurate assessment.

Tips to Avoid Overtraining

  1. Listen to Your Body: If you're feeling tired and sore, take a day off. Engage in light activities like walking or gentle stretches.

  2. Stay Hydrated: Water helps in recovery. Drink up!

  3. Nutrition is Key: Ensure you have a balanced diet with all the essential nutrients. Sometimes, overtraining can result from a lack of proper nutrition.

  4. Get Professional Guidance: Consider working with a personal trainer or coach who can guide you based on your age and fitness level. This can be especially crucial if you're starting out or looking to ramp up your routine. I offer both 1 on 1 online personal training & nutrition coaching, as well as pre-made programs. Consider a 15-minute complimentary phone call with me to discuss options based on your unique health and training history, fitness level, and goals!

In Conclusion: Why Am I Always Tired After Working Out?

Exercise is fantastic and essential, especially as we age. But just like everything else in life, it's all about balance. Ensure you give your body the love, care, and rest it deserves. After all, it's the only one you've got!

Until next time, stay active, stay healthy, and remember – I'm here to support you every step of the way!


Emma Mattison

Book Your Free 15-Minute Phone Consultation with Emma Mattison!

If you're ready to take your fitness to the next level, schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with me, Emma Mattison. During this consultation, we can discuss your fitness goals, assess your current fitness level, and create a personalized plan to help you improve your fitness and functional health.

Image of Emma Mattison, a highly qualified online personal trainer, functional aging specialist, certified trainer and nutrition coach through NASM and FAI, and a skilled Tai Chi and Dance instructor.

But that's not all! As a special offer, I'm providing a free functional fitness course to jumpstart your journey. This course will introduce you to various exercises and training techniques to enhance your overall functional fitness and complement your aerobic base training.

Invest in yourself today and experience the transformative power of improving your aerobic base. Take the first step by scheduling your free consultation and claiming your free functional fitness course. Let's work together to achieve your fitness goals and unlock your full potential!

An older woman joyfully participating in an online fitness class from her living room. She is in mid-movement, following the instructions on her tablet screen, and her face is lit up with enthusiasm and determination, embodying the spirit of joyful movement and active aging.

Please note: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice. Consult with your healthcare provider or a certified fitness professional before starting any new exercise program.

Schedule your FREE 15-Minute Phone Consultation and claim your FREE Functional Fitness Course with Emma Mattison! Click here to book now!

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About the Author

Image of Emma Mattison, a highly qualified online personal trainer, functional aging specialist, certified trainer and nutrition coach through NASM and FAI, and a skilled Tai Chi and Dance instructor.

Hi! I'm Emma Mattison. I'm a NASM certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, stretch & flexibility coach, pranayama breathwork guide, holistic nerd, and lover of birds & music! I specialize in functional fitness for older adults, and those with conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Scientific literature is fun to me, and my goal is to make it understandable and fun for you!

I am driven to share knowledge I find fascinating & transformative with my clients, and the world. Everyone has the power to take their health into their own hands!

My love for fitness and true discovery of health started with helping my best friend – who I can now call my husband! Today, I couldn't do any of this as smoothly and enjoyably as I do now without him! Check out our YouTube, MyZeniverse! He literally edits and films everything. He's editing the next YouTube video next to me right now, as we speak! Check it out, and give it a like if it's helpful! 😊😊


Kreher, J. B., & Schwartz, J. B. (2012). Overtraining Syndrome: A Practical Guide. Sports

Health, 4(2), 128–138.

Meeusen, R., Duclos, M., Foster, C., Fry, A., Gleeson, M., Nieman, D., Raglin, J., Rietjens, G.,

Steinacker, J., Urhausen, A., European College of Sport Science, & American College of Sports Medicine (2013). Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the overtraining syndrome: joint consensus statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 45(1), 186–205.

Plews, D. J., Laursen, P. B., Stanley, J., Kilding, A. E., & Buchheit, M. (2013). Training

adaptation and heart rate variability in elite endurance athletes: opening the door to effective monitoring. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 43(9), 773–781.


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