Regular workouts are a standard recommendation for maintaining physical fitness and health. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults under the age of 65 should do 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular exercise three days a week and eight to 10 strength-training exercises twice a week. However, too much exercise, such as working out every day, can be bad for your health and lead to overtraining syndrome.
Your muscles need adequate recovery time to maximize the effects of your exercise. In fact, recovery time is one of the most important factors in muscle growth. When you work out, you actually damage your muscles and cause micro-tears of the muscle tissue. This stimulates muscle growth, but without adequate recovery time, your muscle fibers are not able to repair themselves fully or grow in number.
A number of factors affect the amount of recovery time your body needs. Beginning at age 25, you need to allow more recovery time between workouts because your muscles begin to recover more slowly. Nutrition is another important factor. Your body needs a lot of time to replace the glycogen lost during exercise. This recovery period can take 24 hours for anaerobic exercise and as much as 48 hours for aerobic exercise. Post-workout supplements high in protein and carbohydrates can help replenish your nutrients and reduce recovery time.
Overtraining syndrome can cause many detrimental performance issues. If you are working out too much, you may begin to fatigue much quicker and suffer a loss in strength, endurance, speed and coordination. Too much exercise also can lead to an increase in your heart rate with less effort, as well as a reduction in your aerobic capacity. Furthermore, overtraining can delay your recovery even more, creating a negative feedback loop that worsens the problem.
Several physiological symptoms may indicate you are working out too much. Persistent fatigue and chronic muscle soreness can be a sign of overtraining. A loss of appetite is another indicator and may lead to poor nutrition. Too much exercise also can lead to excessive weight loss and difficulty sleeping. It can hamper your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and infections, and it can cause you to become more prone to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures.
Working out too much can lead to psychological problems. For instance, overtraining can cause you to become easily irritated or angry. In severe cases, you can suffer from depression. Too much exercise can increase your sensitivity to emotional stress in your life and make concentrating on tasks difficult. You also may experience a loss of competitive drive and enthusiasm.
- Centers for Disease Control: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Cleveland Clinic; Heart and Vascular Health and Prevention; Gordon Blackburn, M.D.
- Building Muscle Fast Naturally; Muscle Recovery Time; Pete Owen
- Department of the Army; Army Physical Readiness Training TC 3-22.20
- American College of Sports Medicine: Physical Activity and Public Health Guidelines