For the vast majority of us, enjoying regular exercise will bring a whole host of healthy benefits. But for a small select few, doing too much exercise will see these benefits turn sour.
How Much Exercise is Too Much Exercise?
Defining what exactly is ‘too much exercise’ isn’t an easy job to do. On one hand, professional and elite athletes will often spend hours a week training their body, whereas someone who works a regular desk job may only typically achieve a fraction of that time in their own workout schedule.
It’s very much a case of each to their own. If you’ve finished a routine run and feel unable to move or function afterwards, that’s a tell-tale sign that you’re overexerting yourself physically. What a professional athlete would usually achieve could only ever be a small fraction of a regular workout; so overexercising really depends on what your current state of physical health is.
There are two main ways to overexercise: compulsive training, and overtraining.
Compulsive training can be defined as when you feel that exercise has no longer become an enjoyable, optional activity, but an activity you have to do; very much in the same way as any other addition. Compulsive trainers often won’t realise the full extent of their overactive habits, and may even feel anxious or guilty when not exercising.
Overtraining, on the other hand, is common when you push yourself too far, too soon. Although it’s good to test the boundaries of your comfort zone, your body should have all the rest and nutrients it needs before it tries to do that. Unregulated exercise in this manner is a common way to incur a physical injury.
What Happens to the Body When you Exercise Too Much?
With this being said, there are some key red flags that come with overexercising that you should totally watch out for:
1. Bone Injuries
The skeletal frame endures the majority of the impact associated with exercise. If you’re exercising too much, your bones won’t have time to recover from such impacts, and are therefore much more likely to experience the likes of shin splits and stress fractures. If these are things you’ve noticed that you might be feeling, you may want to rethink elements of your workout routine.
The body consumes a lot of water during exercise, which is why it’s important to stay hydrated. And it’s a very serious issue that’s all too easy to try to ignore. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and loss of concentration and lightheadedness. If these feelings are common to you, it’s because your body is struggling to keep up with your overactive exercise schedule.
3. Low Weight
Exercise is a really good way to help regulate weight, and although it’s healthy to be healthy, too much weight loss isn’t all that good for you. When the BMI drops too low, it tips your hormone balance, and will throw your metabolism off course too. Underweight people also risk higher chances of developing a weaker immune system, infertility, and anemia.
As September is Suicide Prevention Month, we think it’s really important to raise awareness around overexercising and mental health. The worst thing about excessive exercise is that it influences nearly every corner of life. Overexercising will leave you feeling extremely tired, which will influence your sleep and also your mood. If you’re not feeling the joy of an exciting fitness routine anymore, you may want to examine how your exercising, and also why you’re doing it.
5. Poor Social Skills
As with any form of addiction, overexercising can generate poor social skill, and negatively impact your relationship with those around you. The main difference between people who overexercise and those who don’t, is that people who overexercise schedule their lives around their workouts, not their workouts around their lives. If you often feel guilty about not exercising, and continuously cancel plans to do so, then you may be exercising a little too much.
What is the Recommended Amount of Exercise?
For the average person, 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity is recommended each week. This time can be split in half to 75 minutes if you’re doing more vigorous routines. It’s completely up to you how you deliver these recommendations, but it’s not advised to divide it so that you’re training everyday, 7 days a week. Remember, the best and most effective exercises are accompanied by an equal amount of breaks and rest periods.
How Can you Avoid Overexercising?
There are lots of simple and easy things you can do to both identify and avoid overexercising. Your body will definitely benefit from a more regulated routine, and some ways we recommend doing this is by:
1. Switch Up Your Workout
To not place too much strain on an area of the body at any one time, add as much variety to your routine as possible. Maybe go for a run on Monday, enjoy a whole body workout on Wednesday with the help of your Pilates Bar, before finishing the week on Friday with a well-earned session of yoga. Variety is a great way to regulate your routine, and prevent unnecessary strain and injury. And if you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve just finished these wonderful workout videos with the brilliant Chloe McGregor - check them out here.
2. Take a Rest
A good workout is a perfect balance between rest and play, and securing quality sleep is crucial for securing quality results. Never underestimate the true power of a good night’s rest. The muscles need time to recover and grow, as well as to replenish your energy levels, and sleep is the best way to do this; plus no one wants to feel both tired and sore! We’ve made our own little how-to on how to get the very best night’s sleep, which you’re more than welcome to read here.
3. Eat Well
The body needs the best fuel it can get to feel powerful, ready, and energised for exercise. Enjoying a well-balanced diet will ensure that you’re physically and mentally prepared for a workout, and having the right amount of nutrients in your system will help you to avoid the aftershock of overexercise.
4. Keep Hydrated
We said it before and we’ll say it again; hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The body absolutely must have as much water as it needs, especially during intense physical activities. You’ll be surprised by just how much of the stuff you’ll be losing through sweat and body heat. Whenever we’re on the move, we always bring along this handy and collapsible water bottle.
It’s completely leak-proof, BPA and PVC-free thank goodness, and can hold up to 600ml of gloriously wet water.
Just remember, exercise holds a lot of benefits and health potential for the body, but everything’s better in moderation. And although it’s very important, exercise should never feel like an obligation you can’t get away from. Take everything in your stride, try your best, but don’t try too hard that you hurt yourself; that’s holding you back, not letting you grow.
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