How Burnout Affects Your Endurance

Jan 10, 2021

Dr. Ben Connolly, ND

Dr. Ben Connolly, ND


Burnout is a complex syndrome which occurs in our bodies when we are subjected to long periods of elevated stress. Though burnout is mostly thought of as a work-related problem, in actuality it effects all aspects of one’s life, both at work and at home. One area of your life you can see a negative impact on quickly if suffering from burnout is your exercise endurance. You will find that as you burnout and your ability to handle stress becomes taxed that you will not be able to exercise for as long and that you will be significantly more tired after exercise and that it is taking longer to recover than it has before.

Burnout is due to elevated stress over very long periods of time. What we must understand is that exercise, as good as it is for us, is also a stressor to our bodies. Unfortunately, our bodies do not know how to differentiate from good stress and bad stress, and instead, mount the same reaction to all stress. As our bodies are left to react to chronic stressors, we eventually burnout.

When we are starting to burnout our body begins to release more adrenaline, at first this is great, we can do more than we ever have, we are accomplishing everything and setting personal bests with our exercise goals. However, as burnout continues and we move into stage 2, 3 and 4 our ability to handle stress disappears and we find almost every little stressor becomes a big deal and we begin to feel anxious. Therefore, our endurance starts to decline as well since exercise is also a stressor on our bodies. Once we notice our endurance begin to decline it is best to stop all intense exercise to decrease the stress load on the body. Not all exercise is bad, instead of endurance exercise a few options are to go for a hike, do some yoga, hit the weights, but stop if you find it is raising your heart rate too high.

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