How Much Exercise ls Too Much?

From the WebMD Archives

By Vanessa Voltolina

Overexercising may seem like great problem to have. Truth is, a lack of motivation to get off the sofa after a long day prevents many of us from meeting even the minimum physical fitness recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control. But when it comes to exercise, more isn’t always better: Too much of this good thing can quickly turn not-so-great.

Does your enthusiasm for exercise border on obsession? According to celebrity fitness expert Amanda Russell, key signs that you might be going overboard in the exercise department include decreased energy levels, motivation and performance, as well as depression, injuries, infections, insomnia, an elevated resting heart rate, fatigue and constantly sore muscles.

Here are some other specific clues that you might be exercising too much:

You need your fix... or else. Overexercising (and getting that endorphin high) can feel like a drug. If you don’t fit in your workout, you might experience “withdrawals such as anxiety, irritability and depression,” says Russell.

You're often sick and tired. While exercising a healthy amount helps boost immunity, overdoing it breaks down your immune system, so you're more susceptible to getting sick (and it takes you longer to recover). “Your body is working so hard to repair itself, it's taking a major toll on your immune system,” says NYC personal trainer Jenny Champion, RD.

You push yourself -- but not in a good way. Overexercisers often don’t take a break when they're feeling tired or rundown, Russell says. They push too hard for too long, and may feel compelled to complete a certain duration or type of exercise. Pushing too hard compromises your body's ability to bounce back, she says, so you may constantly feel achy or sore. This is a sign that you need to take a day or two off, so your body can repair itself.

Exercise is your number-one priority. Of course, exercise should be a priority -- and an enjoyable one, we hope! -- but it can’t take first place all the time. “You know there's a problem if getting in your workouts takes priority over the other vital areas of life -- including family, friends, work, community and having fun,” says Russell.

Get More Bang For Your Workout Buck

There are many ways to give your body the exercise it needs without going overboard. “Instead of pounding away for hours on end, try upping the intensity of your workouts for a shorter period of time,” advises Champion. “Swap your hourlong cardio session for a 20-minute [or less]high-intensity interval session that includes both cardio and weights, for a killer workout in a fraction of the time. [That way,] you're getting all the benefits of both training styles at the same time, so you can cut your gym time in half and spend more time recovering and allowing your immune system to recuperate.”

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Get More Bang For Your Workout Buck

There are many ways to give your body the exercise it needs without going overboard. “Instead of pounding away for hours on end, try upping the intensity of your workouts for a shorter period of time,” advises Champion. “Swap your hourlong cardio session for a 20-minute [or less]high-intensity interval session that includes both cardio and weights, for a killer workout in a fraction of the time. [That way,] you're getting all the benefits of both training styles at the same time, so you can cut your gym time in half and spend more time recovering and allowing your immune system to recuperate.”

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