A lot of people engage in cardiovascular and other exercises to lose weight. However, excessive exercise can have negative impacts on your body. This is so true because as the saying goes – too much of everything is bad. And exercise is no exception here if you want to achieve healthy weight loss.
Working out is a very good thing, and it would seem that working out more should provide more benefits. In the normal sense it does provide some extra benefits – until taken a tad too far. Then the body might start reacting otherwise.
The above remains true regardless of exercise being a “healthy stress”. This is because your adrenal glands cannot tell the difference.
What is a Safe Exercise Limit?
Defining how much exercise qualifies as “too much” will depend on a lot of factors. These factors include your age, lifestyle, health history, and type of exercise.
For adults, the new guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services’ recommends weekly:
- 150 minutes “moderate-intensity aerobic activity” like brisk walking. The other option is 75 minutes of “vigorous-intensity aerobic activity” such as running;
- Strength training of all major muscle groups at least twice a week. The weight or resistance level should tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
While setting a minimum amount of exercise per week, there is no set upper limits.
However, the Mayo Clinic says that to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, one may need to exercise more. To achieve more health benefits, they suggest increasing your exercise to 300 minutes or more a week.
Stress and Cortisol
Thus, too much exercise stimulates a hormone called cortisol. This hormone tells your body to hang onto fat stores. The body releases cortisol whenever it is under stress of any form.
This stress could be from the office, school, family issues, lack of sleep, poor eating and a host of other things. They can easily stress the body and make it release cortisol. The unfortunate thing is that the body also considers exercise as a stressor.
Effect of Excessive Exercise
When you push the body too hard for too long it can lead to higher cortisol levels. This can also cause adrenal fatigue an
d even more hunger.
Stress, irrespective of its source, has a way of affecting neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters include dopamine, serotonin and GABA. They are our feel-good, anti-anxiety brain chemicals. Stress and too much intense exercise reduces the levels of these neurotransmitter. This often causes chronic fatigue, sleep disorder and depression.
Continually high levels of cortisol can have negative impact on weight loss. This can come from the combined increased risk of a variety of health issues associated with excessive exercise.
Excessive exercise can cause serious damage to your body. Engaging in prolonged intense exercises can increase the risks of the following:
- Injuries to your ligaments and cartilage of either knee joint
- pain or injury to your back
- dislocation, separation or other injury to your shoulder
- injury to your neck that might involve nerves or vertebrae
Reduced Immune Functionality
Moderate exercise help to improve your immune system. Yet, engaging in too much exercise tends to suppress it. Too much exercise increases the body’s susceptibility to infection. There is the increased severity of minor infections and decreased production immunoglobulins.
Excessive and intense exercise creates an “open window” of impaired immunity. This open window can last for up to 72-hours. Viruses and bacteria can easily invade and infect the body within this time.
Also, it is a fact that cortisol and testosterone conflict with each other. Testosterone is important for certain body functions. These include the growth and maintenance of skeletal muscle, bone, and red blood cells. Muscles also aid in weight loss as they are very metabolic active.
Exercise intensity of long duration triggers the sympathetic nervous system and causes cortisol overproduction. This occurs mostly when the intensity is more than 50% of ones maximal oxygen consumption. The consequence of this is the inhibition of testosterone secretion.
The reduced testosterone, for men, can easily cause decrease in libido. This might be a dual effect of both physical fatigue and lowered testosterone levels.
Female Athlete Triad
For females, excessive exercise can also cause the “female athlete triad”. This is a situation of possible loss of menstruation, eating disorders and osteoporosis or bone mineral loss. A combination of exercise and calorie restriction often causes these symptoms.
Symptoms of Excessive Exercising
There are also some major symptoms – apart from the above – that can result from excessive exercise. Chronic exposure to stress can result in dysfunction. This can upset the regulation of other glands and their associated physiological processes.
Some of these symptoms are physiological while others are psychological.
Physiological Symptoms of Excessive Exercise
Some of the bodily side effects of exercising too much include:
- Reduced overall performance
- Decreased Muscular strength
- Muscle soreness
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
Psychological Symptoms of Excessive Exercise
If you engage in prolong excessive exercise, some of the possible psychological side effects include:
- Feelings of depression
- General apathy
- Emotional instability
- Fear of competition
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
If you have been exercising too much, the first thing is for you to candidly recognize and accept this fact. You need admit to yourself that you are actually suffering from this condition.
One other thing that can help you reduce it would be to follow a training schedule. This schedule should vary your training load and also include mandatory rest phases.
Nonetheless, it is vital to seek help from a medical professional. This will help with the treatment of both the physical and psychological symptoms.
So, we know that most of the time physical exercise is beneficial to health. However, that it is also a “stressor” both in men and women.
But, this does not mean that you should give up on exercising but rather that you need to get the right amount.