is it possible to workout too much?

Exercise is an important part of being healthy. It keeps you flexible and maintains your range of motion. It strengthens your heart and keeps your cardiovascular system, as a whole, in top shape. Exercise also has a positive impact on your emotional well-being. The more you exercise, the more endorphins are released. Endorphins elevate your mood and improve mental clarity and focus. With all of that being said, is it possible to exercise too much?

What Happens if You Workout Too Much?

Believe it or not, you can go overboard with exercise. It may not seem possible, but exercising too much can have a negative impact on the body. Instead of building the body up, excessive amounts of exercise can actually have the opposite effect. It's important to learn how your body responds to exercise and then schedule your workouts accordingly.

Alternating the type of exercise is also beneficial. Strength training exercises three times a week combined with two days of cardio exercise is a good place to start. Go for a walk or splash around in the swimming pool the other two days. Every once in a while, drop one of the strength training or cardio days just to give yourself a break. Relax and enjoy how you feel. That is the purpose of exercising, right?

Too much exercise can place an unnecessary amount of stress on the joints. Moderate exercise strengthens the musculoskeletal system, but when it starts to be excessive, the joints may actually weaken. Inflammation can start to set in, making it difficult for blood to flow properly throughout the joint. It will also take longer for the inflammation to dissipate once you stop exercising.

Exercising every day or more than once a day doesn't allow the body sufficient time to rest between workouts. Rest and recovery are essential for healthy bones and muscles. Many people mistakenly believe that taking a day off will cause them to lose the progress they have made in terms of weight loss or muscle growth. Actually, the opposite is true. Taking a day off provides the muscles the rest they need to progress further with the next workout.

An image of a woman with back pain injury during workout

Excessive exercise will also make you more prone to muscle and joint injuries. Once the joints start to become stressed, they start to weaken. If you continue to exercise too frequently, it may cause a weak joint to fail. Even if the damage is minimal, the inflammation caused by the injury may cause it to take longer to heal. Continuing to push yourself at the point could lead to the creation of scar tissue and permanent damage.

Is It Bad to Workout Every Day?

Even though you may like how you feel after a workout, exercising every single day isn't always a good thing. Aside from the rest and recovery period your body needs to maintain a strong musculoskeletal system, it's also important to allow time for the body's metabolism to work properly. Maintaining properly balance is essential to all of the body's systems including the cardiovascular, circulatory, and endocrine systems.

An image of a woman doing yoga and meditation

Hormone imbalances are a common problem if you workout excessively. Young, female gymnasts who work out several hours a day, may not have their first period until they stop competing because their endocrine system is out of balance. They also enter puberty and develop feminine features at a much later age, all because their hormones have been thrown off by too much exercise.

Too much exercise may also cause you to feel tired faster than if you allow yourself enough time to rest. Exercise fatigue is not just feelings of being tired. It can also show up as muscle tremors and weakness that prevent you from reaching your maximum potential during a workout. When you start to notice these signs, plan to take a day or two off, even if you don't want to. Ignoring these signs can result in injuries that force you to stop working out altogether.

If you want to maintain a high level of activity on a daily basis, that doesn't mean you have to workout every day. Instead of hitting the gym, there are several other options you can explore that will allow you to “exercise” without damaging your body in the process. Go for a walk or try yoga. Play around in the pool with the kids. The water uses your body weight as resistance without stressing your joints.

An injury takes time to heal. In some cases, it can take anywhere from one to two weeks for a muscle injury to completely heal. If you exercise every day, it will take even longer. Taking a day off from exercise will allow the inflammation to dissipate enough so that blood flow can return to the area, providing the oxygen and nutrients the body needs to support the healing process.

What Are the Dangers of Over-exercising?

There are several dangers associated with over-exercising. One of the most dangerous is putting too much stress on your heart. Your heart is a muscle and requires the same amount of rest, if not more, than other muscles in your body. Too much stress on the heart can lead to angina and other types of chest pain that are sometimes confused with a heart attack. If this ever occurs during or after a workout, seek medical attention immediately.

Another danger of over-exercising is longer than average healing times. If you continue to exercise with an injury, you may develop scar tissue that prevents the injury from healing properly. In some cases, it may not heal at all leaving you with chronic pain and discomfort that could possibly result in a surgical procedure to repair the damage.

The scar tissue that results from improper healing can affect how your musculoskeletal system functions. Too much scar tissue within a joint will dramatically reduce both your range of motion and your flexibility. Scar tissue can also impede blood flow to certain areas. This not only increases your risk of injury and slows down healing, it can also cause the joint not to function properly.

If you are trying to lose weight by exercising regularly, too much exercise may cause your body to plateau properly. The best way to move forward with weight loss and prevent plateauing is to keep your body guessing. Don't use the same workout schedule/routines every day or week. Mix up your exercises and include both swimming and walking days. Avoid falling into a comfortable routine.

While regular exercise can lift your mood, too much exercise can lead to irritation and aggression. Part of this may have to do with the increased production of testosterone. It also may have something to do with constantly feeling fatigued or the chronic muscle soreness that often accompanies too many hours in the gym.

An image of a man holding sore and over trained painful leg cramp

Too much exercise is a real thing. Your body will let you know when it has reached its limit of productivity in terms of muscle growth and cardiovascular function. It's up to you to listen and act accordingly. While many of the things listed above may not apply to you, take heed of the ones that do. Create a schedule that allows you to meet your needs gradually.

It’s important to listen to your body. Your mind may want to move, move, move, but your body is asking you to stay the course. If you don't listen, the results may not be what you are looking for. Pay attention to the signs and signals your body is offering you. Follow its lead and you will reach your goals and feel great!

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