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ACSM Newsbriefs

ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal: May/June 2014 - Volume 18 - Issue 3 - p 2
doi: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000041

A new study shows disturbed sleep and increased illness in overreached endurance athletes; Find out how to get involved in Exercise is Medicine® Month this May; and Submit your 2015 proposal for ACSM’s Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition today.

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Increases in training intensity or volume typically are undertaken by athletes in an attempt to enhance physiological adaptation and improve physical performance. However, when the balance between appropriate training stress and adequate recovery is disrupted, an abnormal training response may occur and result in a state called short-term “overreaching” (functional OR (F-OR)). The F-OR state is associated with a decrease in performance, such that it can compromise competition outcomes in the short-term, particularly when insufficient recovery is available before competition. F-OR generally is reversed when an appropriate period of recovery is provided (1 to 3 weeks).

In the present study, Hausswirth and colleagues studied nocturnal actimetry in a group of trained triathletes who completed an overload training program followed by a 2-week taper period and developed symptoms of F-OR in comparison with control counterparts without signs of training intolerance. The most important finding indicated a progressive decrease in the indices of sleep quality, alongside small reductions in sleep quantity, during the overload period in the F-OR athletes, which was reversed progressively during the subsequent taper. Furthermore, a higher prevalence of upper respiratory tract infections also was reported in this F-OR group. Interestingly, the prevalence of upper respiratory tract infections was highest during the last week of the overload period, which was aligned temporally to when sleep disturbances reached their highest magnitude during the study, perhaps implying an accumulative effect.

Whether poor sleep was a consequence of increased training causing the development of overreaching or whether sleep disturbances were simply symptoms of overreaching remains unclear. Whatever the causative link between F-OR and sleep, we suggest that endurance athletes be encouraged to establish an ideal sleeping environment (quiet, cool, and dark) and to avoid an early-morning schedule, when they are exposed to a high training load. Napping for short periods during the day also may represent a recommended recovery strategy for athletes to compensate for the potential decline in actual sleep time that is associated with the development of F-OR.

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This May marks the sixth annual Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) Month. Now, it’s easier than ever to participate. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Secure a proclamation from your state governor or local mayor declaring May as EIM Month. After getting your elected official’s signature, send us a copy at, so we can recognize your efforts. If you secure a proclamation, ask the mayor to hold a special press announcement or event signifying EIM Month. It’s an opportunity for officials to showcase their commitment to the importance of physical activity.
  • Write an exercise prescription for your clients/patients with this easy-to-use form ( or give the form to health care providers in your area. Doing so can help forge a connection between health care and fitness.
  • Work to earn the EIM Credential. The EIM Credential shows health care providers that a fitness professional is qualified to help their patients get the exercise they’ve prescribed. Fitness professionals interested in building their client referral base are eligible. Visit for more information.
  • Use the resources in the EIM Health & Fitness Professionals’ Action Guide ( In this guide, you’ll find information on the exercise prescription and referral process and much more.
  • Sign up for EIM updates and tools at You’ll receive more ideas and resources for integrating EIM into your professional life.
  • Follow us on Twitter @EIMnews and on our Facebook page Exercise is Medicine for updates and other ideas on how to participate in EIM Month.
  • Follow EIM and pin relatable links to Pinterest at and post relevant pictures to Instagram at If you are at an EIM Month event, take photos and upload to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with #EIMmonth.
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If you are interested in proposing a lecture, workout, or other session for ACSM’s Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition in 2015, now is your chance. The deadline for submissions is midnight PST on May 15, 2014. To submit, simply visit and select the “programming” tab to access the link to the online proposal system through OASIS™. The 2015 meeting will take place from March 31 to April 3, 2015, in Phoenix, AZ.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine.