Can you do too much exercise?

There are plenty of guidelines out there offering advice on how much exercise we should take on a weekly basis along with recommendations for the amount of cardiovascular exercise in conjunction with resistance training.  We are also frequently told  that we should do a certain number of steps every day but have you ever considered the concept that it is possible to do too much exercise?  And can you do too much exercise?

I used to spend a phenomenal amount of my time exercising in my twenties and it was not uncommon for me to train 6 days a week; I would run 5-6 miles then do a full body weights session.  I would train for hours on end and I gave everything I had in every single session. I kept trying to exercise this way but I became excruciatingly tired, I was plagued with injuries and eventually I ended up in hospital.  I thought that you could never do too much exercise and that exercise is good, right?  You’d think it was right because we are constantly bombarded with messages telling us so, and it is true to a certain extent.  I know now that my body was trying to tell me that I was over doing things on a major scale, but I ignored the signs.

The paradox is that any type of intense exercise or exercise that lasts for hours on end is catabolic and in order to achieve gains from our training it is actually the rest periods that encourage these gains and allows the body to repair.

If you exercise predominantly for health, fitness and weight management less is most definitely more!!  There is no need to spend hours on end in classes at the gym or running miles and there is no need to train more than once a day, unless you aspire to become an international athlete. 

  • 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise is enough to increase your aerobic capacity (the efficiency of your heart and lungs) and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Do some interval training.  When you exercise intersperse some short, sharp bursts, at a high intensity with periods of light exercise for recovery.  For example, sprint for a minute then walk for a minute; repeat this 10 times.  This type of intense training is said to use fat as its fuel source and can get a really good workout done in a short space of time.
  • If you are not getting the results you want stop doing the same thing you’ve always done.  Keep your body guessing by mixing your training up.  This way your body will burn more calories because you are not allowing it to adapt to one particular way of exercising.

Your health is your wealth.

Leigh x