Fitness Health

Avoid Exercising Too Much

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Exercise is good for us. But it is one of those things we can have too much of. Adding too much exercise to your fitness plan can lead to overtraining and potential injury.

Avoiding injury

A common belief is that results happen during a workout, but results happen between workouts. Exercise is a stimulus that challenges your body. With good nutrition and rest, your body recovers and adapts to become more capable of handling challenges (i.e. exercise) the next time you do it.

When you exercise too frequently, your body lacks time to recover and adapt. By repeating this process of exercising without sufficient recovery, parts of your body may eventually break down from overuse, leading to injury.

Instead of completing more workouts of the same intensity, break up your workouts with active recovery. This can be anything from foam rolling to brisk walking to stretching. The point is to continue being active in ways that support your goals through encouraging recovery, as opposed to activity that leads to overuse.

Avoiding fatigue

One of the most common side effects of too much exercise is you get too fatigued to want to continue. When you work out too much, one of the potential negatives is your sleep is affected. It may seem counter-intuitive, as you’d think that you’d sleep like a baby through more activity.

But too much exercise can make it difficult for your body to wind down at the end of the day. This can lead to disturbed sleep, meaning you’ll miss the get up and go you need to work out next time. The key is to listen to your body. Sometimes, we force ourselves to ‘soldier on’ when our body tries to tell us otherwise.

If you wake up tired and lethargic, instead of pushing yourself through a heavy workout, dial back the workout planned or go for an active recovery option. You will feel better for it and return to a motivated headspace faster.

Avoiding stress

You would think that by exercising more, your results would come faster. But if your goal is to decrease body fat, over-exercising can lead to the opposite. Exercise is stress on the body.

Your body’s response to stress is to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is our ‘fight or flight’ hormone, releasing additional sugar into our bloodstream to help us either evade harm or fight through it. Excess exercise leads to excess cortisol release. Excess cortisol release often results in excess body fat carriage around the waistline.

So, by over-exercising, you risk sabotaging your results and making your goal even more challenging.

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