Most of us understand the benefits of exercising for quality of life. Studies continue to prove that regular exercise, coupled with a healthy diet, can lead to healthier and longer lives. American Heart Association research shows that the bare minimum of exercise – 20 minutes a day of moderate physical activity – can lead to a better life. But is there such a thing as too much exercise?
With a growing fad in high-intensity workouts – along with competitive races such as Iron Man, marathons and ultra-marathons, Tough Mudders, and CrossFit competitions – there’s been increasing concern over possible negative health effects. Furthermore, it’s been leading to a more general question as to whether one can exercise too much and what that would like.
Indeed, there are physical limitations that differ for each person and depend on their current training level. Exercising too much, also called overtraining, is a very real possibility and concern for many people.
High-Intensity Exercise Linked To Negative Health Effects
High-intensity workouts are becoming a growing problem with the increased interest in such fads as CrossFit. However, the problem may not be the type of workout itself necessarily, but rather improper training. Many people are jumping into these extreme exercise routines without prior training experience or the proper kind of training. Some experts argue that it’s lack of knowledge and experience contributing to high-intensity harm. However, other experts argue it’s the nature of the exercise.
Some research shows that endurance exercise can actually change the structure of the heart, leading to an enlarged heart and arteries. Extreme exercise has been linked to short-term negative cardiovascular effects, such as coronary artery disease.
In fact, recent research shows that too much exercise, especially vigorous exercise, may lead to a plateau in health benefits and even lead to a decline in health. Furthermore, most recent studies found that those people who exercise at a moderate intensity lowered their risk for early mortality by 39%. On the other hand, those who took part in extended and strenuous physical activity only lowered early mortality by 13%.
Furthermore, in the same studies, those people who exercised at a high rate for longer periods or time or ran more miles during the week showed no increase in health benefits or better physical health than those did moderate exercise. For example, those who ran over 8 miles an hour or ran seven days a week showed no better physical health than those who only ran 30 minutes two to five days a week.
Signs of Exercising Too Much
It can sometimes be difficult to tell if you’re exercising too much. Overtraining is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to injury and health-related issues. There are seven major symptoms that indicate that you’re either exercising too much or at too high of an intensity.
- Fatigue, i.e. you can’t get up in the morning and you’re always exhausted.
- Your heart is constantly race, even when sitting down and relaxing.
- You start to get sick more often.
- Your performance starts to go downhill.
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping.
- You’re feeling sad and depressed.
- Your body is sore all the time, regardless of recovery time.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Whether you’ve upped your training or started a new training regimen, recovery is always important. However, it’s even more important to remember that the more strenuous the exercise, the more recovery time you’ll need. Without the proper recovery time – which is part of a well-rounded training and injury prevention program – not only can you derail your training, but you can also end up injured. Training properly means working smarter, not harder.