Many people believe that if they exercise long enough and hard enough, they will see results fast. Whether, it is to lose weight or get six-pack abs, many of these people obsessed with quick results are not only exercising, but over-exercising. They push their bodies to extreme levels without enough time to let their muscles recover. The result is severe physical & mental exhaustion, along with related health issues. Bollywood actor John Abraham, knows what it is to suffer sports injury due to exhaustive over training. Bollywood actress, Katrina Kaif has also reportedly injured her neck while over-training in the gym.Too much exercise or over training can result not just in exhaustion & injury, but can even slow down your body metabolism, lose muscle, promote fat storage & even prone to infection! Read on to know all about overtraining- what it is, what are the symptoms, how you can prevent it, and how to recover.Studies have shown that 38.5 minutes is the optimum time to maximize metabolic increase and hormone release, for exercise benefits. But with a warm up, cool down and a post workout stretch, you can take it to an hour. This amount of time is enough to see all kinds of results.Why is over training harmful to your body?- Overtraining causes body to enter a negative nitrogen balance (a catabolic state) so your body will burn muscle to produce energy. So, you will lose muscle, instead of gaining muscle.- Overtraining puts your body under severe stress, so it makes your body produce a increased amount of the cortisol hormone, that stops muscular repair and function, decreases testosterone production, accelerates protein breakdown and thereby inhibits muscular growth. In addition it also reduces the body's ability to use fat as an energy source, thus increasing the amount of stored fat within the body. So, your will stop growing muscle and start storing fat.- Worse news is cortisol also causes body to crave carbohydrates excessively especially in the evening and decrease serotonin levels in your brain which can trigger depression.- The physical stress of over training reduces the effectiveness of your immune system, which compromises with the increased risk to infections & certain diseases. Tips for sore muscles.- Thyroid function impairment, resulting in decreased metabolism, and increased fat storage.- Men who over-train may also experience reduction in sperm count and quality, leading to temporary infertility. Too much or too intense physical activity may reduce the level of hormones in the bloodstream and adversely affect sperm production.Symptoms of Over TrainingLook out for the following symptoms to find out if you overtraining; back pain, frozen shoulder, joint aches, persistent muscle soreness, fatigue, insomnia (lack of sleep), decrease in appetite and increased irritability, change in sleeping and eating pattern, unsteady pulse and irregular menstruation cycle (in women).How to Avoid Over TrainingTo avoid overtraining, stick to a maximum of 5 days a week, always stretch after your workout, take a break from your workout after every 8 weeks, and don't spend too much time in the gym (even if you have a lot of time)So plan a workout, knowing your fitness level and keeping in mind the body requirements. The key to a good workout, is making it effective, not keeping it long!