Exercising is a healthy activity to cut weight, stay fit and maintain bodily functions, but exercising too much can also be unhealthy.
When the amount of exercise exceeds the body’s ability to recover, you can end up becoming slower and weaker instead of stronger and faster.
Jean Swearingen, medical director at Student Health Services, discussed possible reasons as to why people may over-exercise and how this affects one’s health.
“Too much exercise can be akin to, or even part of, an eating disorder when a person becomes addicted to the exercise despite the negative impacts on health such as becoming underweight or sustaining recurrent injuries,” Swearingen said.
“Sometimes the over-exercising can be part of a body image problem.”
One issue with over-exercise is chronic fatigue. This concept occurs when fatigue no longer responds to adequate sleep, Swearingen said.
A lack of progress in stamina or strength can be a result of over-exercising too. A good strategy to combat this dilemma is to make an adjustment in the workout schedule; allow for a break for the body and mind.
It is just as important to take days off to allow your body to recover. Allowing ample time for recovery will help to avoid injury or fatigue, Swearingen said.
Also, a sign the body may be overexerting is dramatic fluctuations in eating patterns.
If a person finds themselves increasing their appetite or having strange changes in weight, it could be because the body is overworked.
“Injuries from over-use, fatigue and too much time exercising may also affect other areas of your life,” Swearingen said.
“Exercise is important, but needs to be balanced. Adequate rest, a healthy diet and relaxation are also important.”
Another important tip to remember is to mix up workout routines. In this situation, it allows for your body to replenish itself and stay fresh.
If you exercise too much, some research suggests chronic endurance exercise can contribute to irregular heart rates.
Some evidence to suggest this may happen, but is not yet proven or understood.
Swearingen mentioned a key piece of advice to students regarding how to monitor their exercise habits.
“A balance of cardio and strength training, with alternating activities is helpful to avoid injuries and to get the most benefit from exercise,” Swearingen added.
“The rule of thumb when starting out is to increase intensity by 10 percent per week until reaching maintenance.”
The right amount of rest varies depending on the individual, but if exhausted, a week or two will likely give the body time to recharge and return better than before.