Exercise is indispensable for staying in shape, improving well-being and minimizing the risk of ill health, especially as you age.
As a result of these benefits, some people may consider the more exercise incorporated into your daily routine, the better.
However, there are real concerns that excessive exercise and overtraining can pose a problem.
Newsweek talked to the experts about whether you really should work out every day.
Is There Such a Thing As Too Much Exercise?
Professor Philip Chilibeck, of the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Kinesiology, believes while there is such a thing as too much exercise, the exact level depends on “a number of factors.”
He told Newsweek the minimal amount of exercise that is recommended for general health is about 150 minutes of moderate/vigorous intensity physical activity per week, involving activities such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling.
He said: “This comes out to just over 20 minutes per day. Most people will get additional benefits if this is extended out to 100 minutes per day.
“If you did more intense exercise (for example, cycling at high intensities such as going up and down a hilly route), you can maximize your benefit at about 50 to 60 minutes per day.”
The expert believes anything beyond this amount may not only involve no additional benefits, it could even result in a “decrease in performance or health.”
However, he cautioned this also depends on “a number of factors,” including genetics—with some people able to handle a greater amount of exercise—as well as diet and sleep.
Chilibeck said: “Someone who is doing a large amount of intense exercise would need to ensure their diet is adequate with enough calories to replace the calories that are expended during exercise.
“If they are trying to lose weight for their sport, they would need to ensure the weight loss was very gradual (i.e. a small caloric deficit per day).
“The dietary composition would also have to be good (i.e. adequate protein, high-quality [complex] carbohydrates [i.e. whole-grains or legumes], and essential fats [mainly from plant sources, for example, olive oil, or fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, or trout]).”
Sleep is also described as “an important factor.” with extra hours of rest recommended for those putting in extra hours at the gym.
Chilibeck said: “Typically, we need about seven to nine hours of sleep per night for proper health. Someone involved in intense exercise training would need an amount of sleep on the high end (i.e. nine hours per night). This allows proper recovery.”
The Effects Of Over-Exercise
Chilibeck added while adequate research is lacking into the effects of excessive exercise for both sexes, it can come with very real risks.
He said: “Hazards of overtraining or training with insufficient calorie intake include a decreased output of some of the hormones that are important for our health.
“This has mostly been studied in female athletes because their estrogen production will decrease and this is noticed by irregular or absent menstruation.
“This low estrogen production can eventually lead to decreased bone mineral density and perhaps earlier onset of osteoporosis later in life.
“In males, overtraining might lead to decreased testosterone production, but this is less-studied.”
Jinger Gottschall, sports psychologist for Wahoo SYSTM’s software platform, adds overindulging at the gym can affect other hormones.
She said: “One of the primary stress hormones with exercise is cortisol. In terms of function, cortisol can help control blood sugar, regulate metabolism, and reduce inflammation.
“Short-term elevation of cortisol has positive effects such as building, adapting and repairing muscle.
“Long term elevation has negative effects such as intense fatigue, joint pain, and mood disturbance, potentially developing into a condition termed overreaching.”
Hussain Abdeh, clinical director and superintendent pharmacist at Medicine Direct, adds a further risk of exercising too much is the increased likelihood of causing injury.
He said: “The phrase ‘feel the burn’ definitely has truth to it and pushing yourself a little while exercising can improve stamina and performance. However, neglecting time for recovery can lead to injury such as strains.
“The older you get the more likely this is to happen. This is because our bodies require longer recovery times as we start to age, so not giving our bodies a rest period could do much more harm than good.
“Over-exercising after the age of 50 could lead to injuries that are hard to recover from, making it hard to exercise altogether.”
And Lucy Arnold, former personal trainer and founder of activewear brand Lucy Locket Loves, suggests working out every day can affect mental health.
She said: “You can become obsessed with it, and rather than enjoy the exercise and how it makes you feel, it can become a negative thing, causing feelings of anxiousness and upset.
“You should take time to take care of your body, especially if you become ill or injured, and enjoy exercise to make you fit and well, not to obsess about.”
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