Over-Exercising: How Much Exercise is Too Much?

By: Women's Care Florida Staff

How much exercise is too much? It’s hard to define what is and what is not over-exercising. After all, elite athletes will spend hours exercising every week. For the rest of us, doctors recommend 150 minutes of physical activity. However, even in those 150 minutes, you can overdo it and push yourself too hard. To know the effects of over-exercising, you should assess how it makes you feel physically and emotionally. For example, if you can barely move the next day, you probably exercised too much. Even so, if you are out of shape, expect to feel sore and tired.

Implementing exercise in your daily routine can give you many benefits. Some of these include improved heart health to a lower risk of depression and even better bone health. Nonetheless, over-exercising can have the opposite effects on your body.

Bone and Muscle Injuries

After a workout, your body needs time to rest and repair itself from the previous workout. According to the Mayo Clinic, running too far too often, lifting too much weight or simply pushing yourself too far can lead to muscle strains and sprains, shin splints, and stress fractures. Even athletes have days off.

If you feel achy and sore, it likely means your body needs a break that day. Consider designing a workout that uses different muscles and has different intensities on different days of the week. For example, Monday you can have an upper-body day for strength. Tuesday you can focus on jogging or walking. Wednesday you can take a rest day. And Thursday you can do some yoga. To avoid injury, make sure you don’t do the same workouts over and over again. Even if you don’t get injured, your body can adjust to the same workouts which can thus halt progress.

Low Weight or Body Fat Percentage

Exercising can help you maintain a healthy weight. However, some effects of over-exercising can lead to too much weight loss. In general, women should have a BMI of over 18.5 and a body fat percentage of over 20 percent. When your weight drops too low, it can begin to affect your hormones. Underweight women are at a higher risk of early menopause, osteoporosis, and infertility. You may also risk anemia and a weakened immune system.

In addition, it can disrupt your metabolism. When you exercise too much and burn too many calories, it can slow down your metabolism. Ironically, this makes weight loss more difficult. Furthermore, when people slow down their metabolism, it doesn’t bounce back quickly. This is why you see people who go on extreme diets and extreme exercise regimens gain the weight back very quickly.

Depression or Anxiety

Too much exercise can leave you feeling fatigued and even depressed. It can affect your sleep and your appetite causing you to feel even more fatigued. If your workouts don’t make you feel energetic, you may need to switch up your fitness plan by lowering your intensity or even changing what type of exercise you do. You might even need to add more healthy carbohydrates and protein to your diet.

You may also need to examine why you exercise. Are you working out because you want to be healthy? Or are you doing it as a punishment for eating a cookie at lunch? When you view exercise as a punishment, you may overdo it and not reap the mental health benefits of physical activity.

Poor Social Relationships

When exercise becomes compulsive, it can damage your relationships with friends and families. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, if you begin to turn down or cancel plans with people you love to exercise, you may be exercising too much or for the wrong reasons.

Exercise should always be your choice. If you feel anxious or guilty after skipping a workout, you may be exercising compulsively.

If you feel unsure how much exercise is right for you, we can help you create a plan to meet your fitness goals. Your doctor can help you create a safe fitness plan that doesn’t put your physical or mental health at risk. Contact Women’s Care Florida today to discuss your fitness goals with a caring physician.

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