Don't Overdo It: Why Too Much Exercise May Be a Bad Thing

Healthline—April 25, 2014

When it comes to having too much of a good thing, exercise is a prime example.

Two recent studies have shed light on the impact of over-exercising, encouraging seasoned athletes and casual enthusiasts alike to take it easy. The first, from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, has identified the biochemical reactions that cause muscle pain and fatigue when you work out.

And the second, from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., shows that wealthier, young athletes with who play specialized sports can experience more overuse injuries than their lower-income peers.

While the mantra of “no pain, no gain,” is a motivator for some, it can be dangerous when taken to the extreme.

Playing Smart

Many exercise-related injuries can be avoided with proper training, said Dr. Marci Goolsby, a primary care sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

“The most common reason people get stress fractures is usually a common error,” Goolsby said. This could mean forgoing strength training or increasing the intensity of a workout too quickly. Athletes often also don’t account for the amount of calories and water they’ll need to supplement their workouts, she said. Being prepared is an easy but effective defense against exercise burnout. 

Not allowing your body to reboot after exercise can affect future workout performance as well. Without enough recovery time, Goolsby explained, “the body starts to rebel,” with a drop-off in performance and difficulty maintaining a regular training schedule. In extreme cases, athletes can suffer from over-training syndrome, a disorder in which the body experiences increasing difficulty bouncing back.

There are other ways to get in shape that don’t involve vigorous training. On days off from heavy exercise, relax with some low-impact activities like yoga. “When you do a strenuous workout, the next day you don’t want to be sedentary and get muscle stiffness from sitting in a chair all day, but you also want to allow your body to recover,” Goolsby said.

Read the full article on Healthline.com.

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