Is There Such Thing as Too Much Exercise?

You’ve heard about the impor­tance of exer­cise in stay­ing healthy. It’s one of the best things you can do for your health, and it helps you main­tain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chron­ic dis­ease, strength­en your mus­cles and bones, improve the health of your brain, and enhance your abil­i­ty to go about your day-to-day activities. 

With all the ben­e­fits of exer­cise, you may won­der, Is more always better?” 

As it turns out, there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to exer­cise. Engag­ing in more exer­cise than your body can han­dle can lead to a range of prob­lems both phys­i­cal­ly and mentally. 

Here are 4 ways too much exer­cise can dam­age your health – and how to find the right amount of exer­cise for you. 

1. Too Much Exer­cise Can Cause Injuries 

Exer­cise works your mus­cles, but too much of it can over­work them, cre­at­ing new or wors­en­ing exist­ing injuries. 

Often referred to as overuse injuries, exer­cis­ing too much can cre­ate repet­i­tive trau­ma that caus­es mus­cle and joint injuries, such as ten­dini­tis (inflam­ma­tion of ten­dons between your bones and mus­cles) and stress frac­tures (tiny cracks that occur in bones). 

Being over­tired from exces­sive exer­cise can also make it hard to con­cen­trate. Depend­ing on how you’re exer­cis­ing, this can be dan­ger­ous. For instance, dur­ing strength train­ing, you could over­load cer­tain mus­cles or even drop a weight if you’re not pay­ing attention. 

Do you think you have an overuse injury? Make an appoint­ment with a Duly Sports Med­i­cine expert today to pre­vent and treat exer­cise-relat­ed injuries. 

2. Too Much Exer­cise Can Lead to Poor Nutrition 

Exer­cise is a great way to burn extra calo­ries and boost your metab­o­lism, help­ing you to main­tain a healthy weight. How­ev­er, if you overex­er­cise, you may not give your body the fuel it needs. 

Whether you’re run­ning, bik­ing, play­ing ten­nis, or danc­ing, your body uses a com­bi­na­tion of pro­tein, fat, and car­bo­hy­drates to fuel activ­i­ty. If you exer­cise too much, you might not have enough fuel to keep going in a healthy way. 

Not eat­ing enough for your lev­el of exer­cise can lead to fatigue, trou­ble sleep­ing, sore­ness, slow mus­cle recov­ery, and hor­mon­al problems. 

Even if you eat enough but don’t eat a healthy diet to sup­port your lev­el of exer­cise, you can dam­age your health in the long term. Eat­ing processed foods and emp­ty calo­ries along­side exer­cise can increase your risk of dying ear­li­er com­pared to some­one who eats healthy and exercises. 

3. Too Much Exer­cise Can Cause Heart Problems 

Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty strength­ens your heart, but you can work it too hard by overex­er­cis­ing. Extreme exer­cise over time can lead to heart dam­age and prob­lems with your heart’s rhythm. This is espe­cial­ly true if you have a genet­ic fac­tor that puts you at an increased risk. 

After a sin­gle extreme exer­cise event, like run­ning a marathon, blood sam­ples of run­ners have shown signs of heart dam­age. While this usu­al­ly goes away with rest and recov­ery, repeat­ed extreme exer­cise can lead to changes in your heart’s struc­ture, such as scar­ring or thick­er walls. 

What’s more, in peo­ple who have cer­tain types of heart dis­ease, high-inten­si­ty exer­cise can raise the risk of heart rhythm dis­or­ders, such as atri­al fib­ril­la­tion. If you’ve pre­vi­ous­ly had a heart attack, talk to your health­care provider before start­ing exer­cise again, and make sure to begin phys­i­cal activ­i­ty safe­ly

4. Too Much Exer­cise Can Be a Sign of Addiction 

A psy­cho­log­i­cal or phys­i­cal depen­dence on some­thing – even if it’s a good thing – is a sign of addic­tion. Exer­cis­ing can be addic­tive because of the plea­sure it brings by releas­ing hor­mones called endor­phins and dopamine. Even­tu­al­ly, when the impact of the hor­mones sub­sides, you’re left crav­ing more. 

While being addict­ed to exer­cise is less com­mon in the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, it’s more like­ly to occur in peo­ple who have eat­ing dis­or­ders or anx­i­ety disorders. 

Signs of being addict­ed to exer­cise include: 

  • Exer­cis­ing too much 
  • Exer­cis­ing too intensely 
  • Exer­cis­ing through injuries, ill­ness, extreme weath­er, or fatigue 
  • Plan­ning your entire day around exercise 
  • Feel­ing irri­ta­ble when you can’t exercise 

How to Avoid Overtraining 

Recov­ery is impor­tant no mat­ter how much you exer­cise. To get the right amount of exer­cise and rest, start by lis­ten­ing to your body. If you’re tired, hurt, anx­ious, or oth­er­wise unwell, take a rest day or two – and get back to some light exer­cise when you feel up to it. 

Oth­er ways to avoid the dan­gers of exer­cis­ing too much include: 

  • Rest­ing for a min­i­mum of 6 hours between exer­cise sessions 
  • Tak­ing at least one rest day per week 
  • Decreas­ing the length and inten­si­ty of exer­cise lead­ing up to competitions 
  • Eat­ing enough to sup­port your lev­el of exercise 
  • Stay­ing hydrat­ed through­out workouts 
  • Get­ting at least 8 hours of sleep per night

If you feel you can’t con­trol how much you exer­cise, talk to your pri­ma­ry care provider. They can help you make a plan mov­ing for­ward, which may involve talk­ing to a men­tal health provider. 

Exer­cise is undoubt­ed­ly a good thing and an impor­tant way to stay healthy. But too much exer­cise can over­work your body and mind. By giv­ing your­self enough rest, you can get back to your exer­cise rou­tine in a safe and pro­duc­tive way. 

Health Topics:

  • Orthopaedic surgery is an interesting specialty with a combination of athletic and traumatic injuries with elective procedures. Whether the condition requires therapy or surgery, it is important to see how the treatment options will impact the quality of life, with the goal of getting the individual back to the activities that they love.