Getting enough exercise is an excellent way to care for your body, helping to build a healthier heart, maintain mobility and stay flexible. But it is possible to have too much of a good thing when you over-exercise or become obsessed with physical fitness. The Centers for Disease Control recommend healthy adults get 30 minutes of cardio exercise each day. While you may aim for a little more, overdoing exercise can have serious consequences.
If a moderate amount of exercise is good, it seems like a lot of exercise would be great for your body. But exercising too much and over training your body can lead to issues such as fatigue, a reduction in overall performance, decreased heart rate response to exercise, decreased maximum oxygen uptake, adrenal exhaustion and increased compulsivity to exercise, according to the U.C. Davis Association of Body Image and Disordered Eating. By not letting your muscles recover, you may also experience persistent soreness and a reduction in performance. In essence, it's possible to exercise so much that the very benefits of fitness become drawbacks by triggering negative responses in the body.
When you over exercise, your body requires more in the way of fuel and nutrition. Unfortunately, those who exercise too much sometimes underfuel their bodies purposely, often in an effort to lose more weight. But underfueling can result in decreased performance and a lack of nourishment. A lack of proper nourishment in relation to exercise can also lead to issues such as disordered eating and osteoporosis, according to "Today's Dietician." Even if underfueling is not done purposefully, too much exercise can burn too many of your body's resources without enough time to refuel and recover.
There are medical conditions for which too much exercise could be extremely problematic. Exercise increases heart rate, which can be dangerous for those who already suffer from or are susceptible to high blood pressure. Pregnant women, for example, should always check with their doctors before beginning a vigorous exercise routine, while overweight and elderly people may also need medical supervision.
Your body -- and mind -- may already be warning you that you're exercising too much. Watch for red flags, as stipulated by the National Eating Disorders Association. Some of the signs that you're too preoccupied with exercise include basing your social life around fitness, not taking rest days, extreme fatigue or exhaustion or exercising several times per day for long periods of time. Women may also experience a loss of menses or frequent bone fractures. These are signs of too much of a good thing and you may require medical and mental help. See your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional who can help you include exercise in a healthier way.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need
- Today's Dietitian: Winning Strategy — Address Weight and Energy Intake to Improve Athletes’ Performance
- The Association of Body Image and Disordered Eating: Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Exercise?
- National Eating Disorders Association: Compulsive Exercise: Too Much of a Good Thing?
- Rice University: Overtraining Syndrome