Can we over exercise?

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

How much exercise is too much? We all know that exercise has many benefits, see my previous post on this topic however what are the implications of too much exercise. Until recently, I didn’t know that you could over exercise but now I am biking to work more often I am starting to realise that I am struggling to keep up strength training and a yoga practice as well as daily walks. But how do you pull back without worrying you will pile on a load of weight? This is my current predicament. What do I cut out? I can’t cut out biking as it’s my method of commuting to and from work, I enjoy strength training so don’t want to lose that completely and I love yoga as it’s great when I ache from, well, too much exercise! It’s become a vicious cycle of trying to do more because more is better, right? Maybe not. Let’s have a look at the health risks of over exercising:

The Effects of too much Exercise Over exercising can cause an increased resting heart rate, a healthy amount of exercise can lower your heart rate but too much can have the opposite effect It can decrease your appetite. This can be good if controlled but left unmonitored it can cause shifts in your hormones that regulate your hunger Too much exercise can cause restless sleep which is because exercise can increase your basal body temperature which can impair sleep patterns Too much exercise, specifically aerobic, can cause a rise in cortisol raising your stress levels, this can have many impacts on the body alone, from hormone imbalances to insulin issues In females, overtraining can cause amenorrhea (lack of and/or irregular periods) It is also possible to actually gain weight from over exercising, and not weight gain from improved muscle size. Higher cortisol levels can increase hormonal imbalances in testosterone and cortisol. This can then force the body to burn muscle and not fat. Your body then tries its best to retain fat stores, particularly around the abdomen. So what can we, specifically me in this scenario, do to stop these negative impacts of exercise? Scale back what you are doing, reduce the strength training from three to two days, practice more restorative yoga rather than power yoga and, most importantly, take rest days. I currently take one rest day per week where I only go for a short walk (rest does not mean to do nothing). Maybe I need to increase my rest days and take a Tuesday or Wednesday - for me that would still mean biking to work but in the evening rather than pushing to do a workout, maybe I can have a nice pamper evening! The biggest issue is the fact that we are conditioned to believe that more means bigger, better results. If we don’t slow down and rest we do not give our muscles time to repair, we could cause fatigue in our bodies, it could cause the resentment we sometimes feel when we think we have to workout. A lot of the time we are our own enemies when really we all need to tune in and listen to our bodies a little more and treat them with a little more love. I have written a post on this subject The Battle to Better yourself.

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