Is there a point where cardio exercise can hurt me?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Yes, when you do so much of it as you get injured, tear a muscle, destroy a joint, or anything in the injury category. More than 2 hours a day is too much!!

Too much of anything is never a good thing. Trying to do too much too soon without first building a strong cardio foundation, or training regularly at high intensities without allowing yourself adequate rest and recovery can lead to burnout, overtraining, and injury. It is very important with any exercise program that you begin slowly, progress your program gradually, and allow your body enough time to rest and recover. If you experience increasing fatigue or muscle soreness, difficulty sleeping, or new and niggling pain - these are all signs that you may becoming overtrained. Becoming overtrained is not fun and can lead to dropout and injuries. It's good to push yourself, but be sure to give yourself enough time to recover so that your program is safe, effective, and enjoyable.

As with anything, too much of one particular thing could result in injury but is not as common if done in moderation and with good technique. Overtraining or overuse can cause damage to muscles and lead to injury such as tendonitis (inflammation to tendons). Your body does need rest to recover from excessive stress being placed on the body from exercise. If cardiovascular exercise is performed at high intensities and proper rest is not integrated, then your body does not have the time to recover which can lead to prolonged fatigue and reduced performance. Eventually this situation can lead to burnout and often times injuries as well. In addition, stress to a joint is a common complaint and is caused by inefficient movement patterns (or muscle imbalances) that are done in a repetitive manner. Before performing your cardio routine, try foam rolling (a self-massage technique used to roll out knots in your muscles) your calves (bottom portion of your legs), your IT Band (outer side of your upper leg) and Piriformis ("upper" butt region) before activity. Once you have completed foam rolling try static stretching your calves and hip flexors (front of thigh), holding each position for 30 seconds each. These techniques will help restore the muscles back to their optimal length. Once you have stretched these areas, try performing a bridge exercise to activate the glutes. Once you have gained length and reactivated the underactive muscles you will be less likely to have pain that could lead to possible injuries.

Continue Learning about Exercise For Increasing Cardiovascular Endurance

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.