Exercise is vital for our health, and I’m a huge proponent of my patients and the general population working out frequently.
I don’t think you can make an argument for the futility of exercise in helping to modulate health.
But, as great as exercise is for health, there needs to be a conversation about when it isn’t good for health.
Now, I’ll admit, it’s almost always the case that people tend to get too little exercise instead of too much.
But, when the pendulum begins to swing in the opposite direction, the ravages of hypercise (I just made that word up) can be pretty damaging.
And so today, I just wanted to talk to the small segment of the population that tends to overdo it and why it’d be a good idea to reel it in.
Here’s What Happens When You Get MORE Than Enough Exercise
Without beating a dead horse, it’s worth noting that working out is an excellent way to improve our physical and mental well-being.
Regular exercise can strengthen our muscles, boost our cardiovascular health, and release endorphins that enhance our mood.
However, it's important to strike a balance and avoid overdoing it.
When I say “getting enough exercise,” I know that can be somewhat ambiguous.
Generally, working out between 5-10 hours a week is within the healthy range.
Of course, intensity also matters, and I’ll get into that shortly, but depending on your age and ability, somewhere between 3-7 hours a week of exercise is recommended.
But you can exercise too much.
Even inside of that timeframe.
I’ll talk about that here, but let’s at least review the potential dangers of working out too much.
1 - The Physical Risks
Overtraining can put a significant strain on our bodies.
You can imagine what intense exercise can do to muscles, tendons, and ligaments if you never have a chance of recovery.
But, even less intense exercise can produce negative results.
Yeah, even walking too much.
One of the main dangers is chronic fatigue. If you’re overextending, you may not be able to rest enough and can be too tired to perform well.
You may have to contend with persistent muscle soreness, which can lead to an increased risk of injuries.
One of the most significant risks of pushing ourselves too hard is the damage it can do to your immune system. Working out too much makes you sick!
If you’re overtraining, it may disrupt your sleep patterns, hindering your ability to recover effectively, which can cause fatigue, soreness, and ongoing compromised immune function.
Some people believe that because exercise helps them feel better if they get more in, the better they’ll feel. In most cases, this is a falsehood.
2 - Mental Health Implications
One of the main reasons not to work out too much is what it can do to your mind.
Far too many people equate exercise with a path toward aesthetic improvements, and there’s a danger that they will work out too much in their pursuit to become more attractive or more desirable.
Many people fall victim to a mental health condition related to excess exercise.
This mental health condition is called body dysmorphia and is characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with perceived flaws in one's physical appearance.
Men tend to think they’re too small, and women tend to believe they’re too large, so they push hard to change their physique.
Not only can this unhealthy obsession with their perceived flaws lead to negative consequences like the ones I mentioned above, but it also creates an unhealthy relationship with exercise that negates the positive health benefits exercise produces.
Body dysmorphia is a serious condition that may sometimes require professional help.
I believe it’s one of the more significant dangers of working out too much.
Even if you don’t develop body dysmorphia, there are other ways too much exercise can negatively affect you.
Many people report that overindulging may produce feelings of anxiety, irritability, and mood swings.
That’s not at all what you want when all you’re trying to do is get healthier (and perform better).
The Key Is Finding the Right Balance
To maintain a healthy and sustainable fitness routine, finding the right balance is crucial.
And it’s not hard.
One of the first things to do is listen to your body.
What I mean by that is to pay attention to any signs of exhaustion, pain, or persistent soreness. It's important to give your body ample time to rest and recover.
So, if you’re the kind of person who likes to push hard, allow your body to dictate when you push and when you don’t.
I would be remiss to note that if you’re an athlete, this is exceptionally important and difficult to do, owing to the nature of the competitive environment athletics can produce. If you find yourself pushed to the limit, work with a coach or trainer to ensure you protect your body and mind.
For those just looking to be healthy, I advise you to vary your workouts. That is a great way to find balance by incorporating different types of exercises to work different muscle groups and prevent overuse injuries.
And never forget prioritizing rest days is essential!
Practicing the habit of building rest days into your program allows you to repair and rebuild.
Remember, rest is just as crucial as exercise in achieving optimal results. Resting allows your muscles to recover, grow stronger, and adapt to the demands of your workouts.
And never ever forget you need to give your body all it needs to perform well and recover well, which includes proper nutrition, hydration, and sufficient sleep.
Proper nutrition ensures that your body has the necessary fuel to perform and recover from exercise. Staying hydrated supports overall bodily functions and aids in muscle recovery. Sufficient sleep is essential for repairing and rejuvenating your body.
For more information on this topic, you can refer to the following resources:
Understanding Overtraining Syndrome: This article from Healthline provides valuable insights into the causes, symptoms, and treatment of overtraining syndrome.
- The Dangers of Overexercising: Mayo Clinic discusses the potential risks and consequences of overexercising, along with tips for finding balance in your fitness routine.
- Balancing Exercise and Rest: Verywell Fit offers practical advice on striking the right balance between exercise and rest to prevent overtraining and promote overall well-being.
Remember, exercise is good… but too much can be problematic. Don’t overdo it in your quest to be a better, healthier version of you!