Limiting your exercise might feel a bit like limiting how many carrots you eat in a day. Is it really possible to get ‘too much’ of a healthy thing?
When you’re getting too much exercise
Experts say there is. Despite the many benefits of regular exercise, it is possible to overdo your workout routine. Over-exercising can start to affect other parts of your life, too, so it’s important to be aware of the signs that you’re spending a little too much time in your running shoes.
- You exercise for hours every day: If you exercise vigorously for hours most days of the week, you could be putting yourself at risk for heart arrhythmia and other health problems later in life. One study from the Mayo Clinic suggests that there’s an upper limit to exercise, at which point it can actually negatively impact your health in the long run. Moderate exercise for about 150 minutes per week, or vigorous exercise for 75 minutes a week, is enough exercise to deliver the health benefits from physical activity.
- You’re having a hard time sleeping: Exercise can help you sleep better, but believe it or not, insomnia is a common side effect of over-exercise. Too much exercise can change your sleep patterns and make you restless at night, so if you’re having a hard time sleeping, it might be a sign that tomorrow should be a rest day.
- You’re feeling burned out: Your body needs time to recover and rebuild itself in between workouts; without a break, it can’t build new muscle. If you find yourself feeling sluggish, and you’ve been dreading working out lately, you might be going too hard with your exercise. This also calls for a rest day or two.
- You feel guilty or anxious on days you don’t exercise: This might indicate a larger problem in your life; it’s basically disordered thinking, and it will lead to more problems down the road. It’s really important to keep your priorities in check, and to consistently remind yourself why you’re exercising: not to punish yourself, but to maintain a lifestyle that keeps you healthy, both physically and emotionally.
- You’ve been getting sick a lot lately: Spending too much time exercising can actually compromise your immune system, which makes sense when you think about how chronic inflammation works against our good health. It’s one thing to get in a small workout when you have a cold; it’s another thing to not allow yourself adequate rest when you’ve been consistently feeling under the weather. Sometimes, staying healthy requires taking a few days off, and that’s okay.
The bottom line on too much exercise
It can be hard to define the concept of too much exercise, but in general, it’s a good idea to regularly assess how you are and how exercise is impacting your life. If exercise seems to be having a negative effect on your life in any way, you should take some time to figure out how you can change things up – your body will thank you for it!