With January fast approaching and people starting to formulate ideas for their new year’s resolutions, many will overindulge over Christmas with the plan that 2018 will be the year they finally start exercising.
Most of us are worried about doing too little, getting flabby and sedentary, but is there such a thing as too much exercise?
According to research carried out in 2012 by a team led by cardiologist Dr James O’Keefe, physical activity is like medical treatment in that it can be detrimental if overdone. Dr O'Keefe said:
As great as exercise is, it’s like a powerful drug. More is better up to a certain dose, but after that there is a point of diminishing returns, and it may actually detract from health and even your longevity.
How much is too much?
It should be stated, first and foremost, that research has shown those that exercise regularly benefit in a number of ways, not least living on average seven years longer than those who don't.
Extreme athletes, however, can take things too far and that excessive activity can actually have a toxic effect. Experts say 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day is ample and runners should aim for about 10 to 15 miles a week - enough to achieve a runner's high.
Should you be worried about exercising too much?
Personal trainer Daniel Harrod told indy100 that for the vast majority of people this should not be an issue:
Lingering soreness, frequent 'flu-like' illness, increased lethargy, decreased gym performance, and severe exhaustion usually indicates you're exercising too much.
Most people shouldn't be concerned about over-training though since "under-recovering" is more of an issue. Your body can actually handle an extreme amount of work - if you recover properly. Harrod suggests that for every intense training session completed, there should be an equally intense focus on rest and recovery methods. Following this golden rule should be enough to prevent any negative repercussions.
What is an extreme workout and why is it dangerous?
A marathon is a good example of an extreme workout. While engaged in such a pursuit, the heart has to pump fives times the amount of blood it would while a person is resting. This can cause short-term changes in the heart and large arteries but things will return to normal within a week without additional training. More extreme exercise within this timeframe, however, may cause heart scarring that might lead to irregular heartbeats.
How can you avoid overdoing it?
The benefits of exercise for both the heart and the body simply do not require extreme measures. Depending on the activity, anything between 15 minutes and an hour a day of exercise, several times a week, will produce results. If you pursue small but manageable amounts of excursion, everyone's a winner.