We usually prefer to talk about the fun and health-promoting benefits of exercises but in this article I want to highlight 2 reasons why exercise may possibly cause damage to your long-term health.
I appreciate that for some people exercising is a chore and is done out of a sense of obligation to their own health as a result of advice from a doctor, friend or relative. If you fall into this category then these risks I am about to talk about will likely not apply to you. In case you decide to stop reading this article right now let me leave you with one simple nugget of wisdom before you go - you need to find an activity that is fun. When you really enjoy the sport or activity you are doing it no longer feels like a chore. One sure way of finding more enjoyment in your activity might be less about the choice of exercise but rather your choice whether to exercise alone or with a partner. Sharing your workout time with a friend is a lot more fun and motivating than doing it alone.
Back to those who may be at risk, people like me. I have always loved to be physically active but as I get older I become more aware of the need to self-regulate. If I don’t, it catches up with me and negatively affects not only my body but how I think and feel about life in general.
1. Doing too much exercise and the risks of over-training
Whether exercising for the health benefits or simply for the love of the sport we need to know how much activity is too much to avoid suffering the consequences of fatigue and burnout. Our common challenge is that there is no common limit. We are all different and need or can cope with varying degrees of strain and stress as a result of exercise. Our unique capacities for physical stress can also change constantly determined by what’s going on in our lives; stress levels, how well we are sleeping and the quality of our eating habits being the primary considerations.
Whether our aim is to improve our health or to get faster or stronger in our sport, our ability to make progress is directly related to our ability to recover. A lack of rest and recovery time is a sure way to be counter-productive in your efforts.
Related article: How To Prevent An Overuse Injury
How to know if you are doing too much exercise
The following are potential signs of over-training:
- Constant feelings of tiredness
- Muscle-soreness lasting long periods of time
- Frequent illness as a result of weakened immune system
- Loss of motivation for your activity
How to self-regulate
Quite simply we all need to become better at listening to our bodies by increasing our awareness and sensitivity to the signals of fatigue. We also need to be disciplined to then take the necessary action, such as rest.
The essential and most basic needs for making sure we are able to cope as best we can with physical stress is by eating well and staying well hydrated, getting good quality sleep and regulating our mental stress levels.
2. Potential problems with endurance training
Endurance training relates to long-term activity in preparation for endurance events such as long-distance marathons or cycle races, as opposed to over-training risks of short-duration activity performed too frequently.
An article I can across on the BBC website discusses the paradox of super-fit endurance athletes, who experience very low resting heart rates as a result of their fitness levels, are more likely to have heart rhythm disturbances when they become older.
‘Chronic cardio’ is another term for describing the risk factors of exercising too much.
In the end, the benefits of exercising will still generally outweigh any risks. Many have said the worst thing we could possibly do for our health is to live sedentary lives. It’s better to move than not to move. As is the case in all areas of our lives optimum health is likely to be found in the realm of balance.