Advertisement

Can too much aerobic exercise harm my health?

Too much of anything may harm your health, including aerobic exercise. Everything in moderation has always been a great motto to live by, especially when it comes to your own fitness routine. That’s because being truly fit involves more than just spending long hours in the gym lifting heavy weights or grinding out mile after mile on the treadmill.

But there has been a movement against including any form of cardio in your regular workout program. These naysayers claim that doing aerobic exercise as we know it may be counterproductive. But just like any controversy, there is much more to the story.

The fit really hit the fan when a scientific study claiming that running more than four miles per day could damage your heart was picked up by the national news. The research had a lot of people reevaluating their exercise program, causing them to make the rash decision to ditch their cardio.

But what exactly is the truth when it comes to cardiovascular exercise and heart health? Contrary to the study, aerobic exercise actually strengthens the heart. The health benefits from a well-designed cardio program are numerous. Running can reduce the risk of many chronic conditions, including:
  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • type 2 diabetes
  • metabolic syndrome
  • stroke
  • certain types of cancer
Running also helps boost your mood and eases the effects of depression, while reducing anxiety and promoting overall relaxation. Plus, performing weight-bearing aerobic exercise like running can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Along those lines, weight training in addition to aerobics can become more important as we age. Strength is key for older adults to be able to perform their activities of daily living.

Capping your runs at four miles per day really doesn’t make much sense, because for any decent recreational runner, that amounts to around 30 minutes of exercise. Thus, when it comes to training cardiorespiratory fitness, we recommend up to 60 minutes of exercise for a maximum of five days per week.

Cutting out any aerobic work from your training program is like “putting a nail in your own coffin,” so why risk it? However, going to severe extremes in your training can lead to serious issues such as heart arrhythmias. It’s all about listening to your body and balancing out the physical demands of your workout routine so that you can achieve optimal results. 

Continue Learning about Exercise For Increasing Cardiovascular Endurance

Can weight training be used as a substitute for cardio training?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
If you perform your weight training in a circuit style manner, then it can have equal benefits as lo...
More Answers
Can endurance exercises make you smarter?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
Can running, swimming or biking improve your memory? In this Treadmill Talk, Sharecare expert Dr. Mi...
More Answers
How long should I run to increase my cardiovascular endurance?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
How much you run will depend on your fitness level. If you're new to exercise, strive for 15-20 minu...
More Answers
How can I improve my heart health by exercising?
Jennifer H. Haythe, MDJennifer H. Haythe, MD
To improve your heart health with exercise, the current guidelines recommend moderately vigorous exe...
More Answers

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.