How much exercise is too much?

I tell my clients to focus on efficiency.  Work smarter not harder.

If you are efficient in your exercising and focusing on intensity in your weight training and the most efficient forms of cardio for your goal you will reach your goals without having to put in 2 hrs of exercise per day.  After researching the subject I find that people will exercise more in an attempt to lose weight quicker but the reality is efficient and intense training with the proper caloric intake will get someone further than just a bunch of exercise.

Too much exercise will vary from person to person.  A person who is young, who has good nutrition habits, takes recovery supplements and has a strong nervous and immune system generally will be able to handle more exercise than others.  

The older you get, the worse your nutrition and the harder it is to recover from exercise.  A young person can generally exercise all day long but as you get older too much exercise can lead to sickness and injuries.  Too much exercise attacks the central nervous system and that what leads to the issues.  I often tell people that you cannot overtrain your body, you can only overtrain your nervous system.

The second the nervous system is overtrained is when problems happen because the bodies normal functions are altered.  Things such as oxidative stress and too much free radicals are produced and makes it very hard to recover and make progress.

Generally about 1 to 1.5 hrs of focused and intense exercise with adequate calories and nutrients is the best way to sustain progress and health over a long term.

Joanne Duncan-Carnesciali, CPT,NASM Elite Trainer
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Just as one can take too little aspirin for a headache or too much aspirin for a headache one can be following an exercise prescription that puts them in a position of exercising too much.


How do you know if it is too much?  You utilize the services of a fitness professional who knows how to develop and write an exercise prescription specific to your needs.


The exercise prescription will be based on what we call in the industry--the F.I.T.T. principle.  F.I.T.T. stands for:


Frequency - How often?

Intensity -How hard?

Time - How Long?

Type - What type of exercise are you engaging in?


The exercise prescription can only be developed and written if the fitness specialist is aware of your current level of fitness and has a clear understanding of your fitness goals.  This information is gathered through fitness assessments.

Once that information is collected the fitness specialist can develop a program for you that is the correct dosage and will not put you at risk for overtraining.

How much exercise is too much? You've over trained when you exceed your recovery ability. Signs that you are over training,

1. Your training seems to excessively exercising,


2. The volume of training goes up but, all the progress you have made goes down,


3. You feel a loss of the normal endurance that you usually have, resulting in fatigue because of not having adequate amounts of rest and recover.


 The body becomes calorie-deficient and the rate of break down of muscle tissue increases. Exercising to much may also cause you to become short-tempered and increase your chance for injury. So listen to your body and talk with your trainer to come up with a game plan to obtain the full benefits of your workouts.

There is no magic number of minutes that determines how much exercise is too much. It depends on many factors such as your age, weight, medical history, and fitness level. But current research clearly demonstrates that too much exercise may cause harmful effects known as overtraining syndrome.

Overtraining syndrome commonly occurs in athletes or fitness enthusiasts who are training beyond their body’s ability to recover. When an individual is performing excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest and recovery, there may be some harmful side effects. Some of these side effects may include decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns (insomnia), reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, mood disturbances, and a compulsive need to exercise.

To help avoid overtraining training be sure to eat a well-balanced diet and strive for a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. A proper nutrition strategy coupled with adequate rest will help provide you the necessary nutrients and energy your body needs to maintain physical activity.

In addition, it is equally important to listen to your body. If you’re feeling rundown, take a short break from your typical exercise routine and treat yourself to some rest and relaxation.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Exercising is like nuts in at least one way—there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While exercise has more plusses than a math workbook, you can take it too far: If you burn more than 6,500 calories a week with exercise (that's roughly 13 hours) or if you do more than two hours in a row of straight cardiovascular training. That overuse not only can stress your joints (depending on the exercise), but it also appears to be the level at which you induce too much oxidative stress in your body, and that decreases your longevity.
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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.