Is there such a thing as too much exercise?

Most American children and adults do not meet the minimum daily requirements of exercise. That means that most of us are not engaging in meaningful fitness activities that raise our heart rate for an extended period of time (aerobic exercise), nor do we work out with weights on a regular basis. But in some cases, an individual can develop an unhealthy relationship with exercise. Exercising too much or in extreme ways, can actually be harmful to your health.
The following questions may help you to determine if your exercise efforts are too extreme and unhealthy:
  • Do you exercise vigorously seven days a week without varying the intensity of your workouts – meaning easier days and harder days?
  • Do you skip social events in order to exercise?
  • Do you exercise more than once a day?
  • Are you in a holding pattern and not seeing any changes in your physique despite vigorous daily exercise?
  • Does your exercise leave you feeling exhausted versus energized?
  • Are you experiencing mood swings?
  • Are you experiencing delays in recovery time, with persistent muscle soreness?
  • Are you experiencing persistent mental fatigue?
  • Are you experiencing new insomnia?
  • Are you noticing that you are experiencing more colds or other illnesses and have slower recovery times?
Eric Olsen
For each of us, at some point exercise becomes too much of a good thing, increasing not just the risk of injury, but perhaps even the risk of premature mortality. Some of us are probably able to absorb and benefit from truly gargantuan workloads; others appear to be more vulnerable. You'll learn where your limits lie only after some experience and experimentation with an active life, noting how your body responds to different types and intensities of exercise. But each of us does have limits; our bodies simply aren't designed to withstand excessive levels of exertion, although what's excessive is a matter of wide individual variation and is subject to continually changing circumstances.
Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

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Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

An easy-to-follow programme for lengthening and improving lives. More than an exercise guide, this text is an effective tool for making meaningful lifestyle decisions to benefit long-term fitness. In...

All great posts, I wanted to add one little tiny tidbit for those who are into hypertrophy training.

Many people will believe that if you train a muscle group too many times in a week that it will lead to overtraining.  One thing I want to make perfectly clear is that overtraining is a result of stress to your system and your system being in an overtrained state not the particular muscle group being overtrained.

How many times you train a muscle group per week by itself will not lead to overtraining.  Overtraining is a result of your activity versus recovery abilities as a whole.  Some of the best bench pressers in the world bench press 3 to 4 times a week sometimes.  Some of the best performance athletes in the world will engage their legs daily.  Gymnasts obviously train their back and shoulders daily.

Overtraining is simply the amount of activity and proportionately how well your body recovers from that activity.  When looking at overtraining look at your central nervous system not a particular body part.

Yes, too much of anything is usually not a good thing. The same is true for exercise. Overtraining is a condition when you exercise too much without giving your body adequate recovery time in between workouts. It is very common for people to over train when they first start their programs, as they are excited to begin working out and getting into shape. The problem with overtraining is that it is very easy to get injured, and develop other symptoms such as fatigue, irritability and even depression. Instead, try to give your body adequate rest time while you train. Look for signs that you may be overtraining such as fatigue, chest pains, dizziness, muscle strains and general weakness. As always, if you don’t feel right it is best to get checked by your doctor.   

Wendy Batts

There is a phenomenon called overtraining. Overtraining is often a condition that many people may not be aware of and can plague over enthusiastic gym goers. The problem with overtraining is that it can lead to some real health problems. The quick fix is to simply take some time off, like a week or so. This may seem like torture to devoted exercisers but believe me, when you get back to working out, you’ll feel like a new person. As always, if you feel like some other conditions may be at work here, please be sure to seek out the help of a qualified medical professional.

Here are some signs to look out for with overtraining:

  • Reduced quality of workouts: that is, they just don’t feel as good as they used to any more
  • Fatigue: you can’t seem to feel energized and you don’t feel fully recovered from workouts
  • Sleep disturbances: too much or too little sleep compared to your normal cycle
  • Amenorrhea in females: the disturbance or loss of your normal monthly menstrual cycle
  • Mood disturbances
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Oh yes. But it isn’t as common as the couch syndrome.  There’s a condition called "overtraining syndrome." While it mainly affects competitive athletes who constantly put the pedal to the metal, it could also happen to you. When you overtrain, rather than getting stronger and better, you get weaker and worse. The reason: Your body needs downtime between workouts (especially strength training) to build new muscle fibers, sprout new capillaries to increase blood flow, replenish glycogen (your main fuel), and recharge your mitochondria (the energy factories in your cells). You can't be constantly kicking butt for all of these to happen. You have to kick back, too.

For people who are new to exercise it is common to start off too fast and do too much. These are the people who generally have unrealistic goals. For example, although they have not run in 6 months they are going to run 6 miles, 5 days a week. What ends up happening is they drop out usually between 1 & 4 weeks. Physically this is too much and psychology this is too much. 

For people who are active too much exercise is commonly known as burnout. The symptoms of burnout include: lethargic, sleeping a lot, tired muscles, headaches, body aches, flu symptoms, mental fatigue, etc. People who experience burnout are usually very active and healthy but they have pushed their bodies into an unhealthy state of fatigue. 

Absoultely, the body can only handle so much stress at one time.  When you workout too much, too hard and too long at one time it is called overtraining. Remember you have to give your body a chance to rest and repair for the damage you have done so it can get stronger.  So listen to your body and give it the rest it needs or you can become weaker during your workouts or worse injure yourself.
Yes, there is. 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.

Yes, it is called overtraining. Overtraining can occur with weight lifting and/or aerobic training (i.e. running, biking, swimming and etc.). The goal of exercise is to stress the body so that it is forced to get stronger, faster, and perform longer. If you put too much stress on the body at one time, you may actually get weaker or injured. It is important to gradually increase your training regimen in order to avoid overtraining. Signs that you may be overtraining include exhaustion, dehydration, chest pain, dizziness, and increasing weakness with training. If you feel you may be overtraining reduce your activity and consult a healthcare professional if your symptoms continue.

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Exercise provides many health benefits - from fitness to increased physical and mental energy. In order to prepare yourself for a exercise routine, you need to research which exercise is right for you and how to fit a new exercise ...

e program into your daily schedule.

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.