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How Much Exercise Is Too Much?

Juliette Steen Huffington Post Australia 2017-08-09 16:05:03

  Whether you're just starting a fitness regime or trying to get back your summer body after hibernating in winter, exercising is an effective way to help reach your goals, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

  There are so many ways to exercise -- yoga, swimming, weight training, jogging, cycling, walking, rock climbing -- and they all have unique benefits.

    Outside of physical changes like building muscle and losing fat, exercise can help with mood, sleep and stress management. However, there is such thing as overdoing it when it comes to physical activity.

     So, how much exercise is too much? And how do we know when we need to rest?
First, let's take a look at the problem .

How much exercise should you do each week?

   The exact amount of times or minutes you should exercise per week depends on factors like your body composition goals, training background, age and overall health status, but there is a guide we should aim for.

  "For any individual, doing some physical activity is better than doing none," Chloe McLeod said .

     If you're currently doing no physical activity, start by doing some exercise and gradually build up.

  "The Australian guidelines recommend we accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes (1.25 to 2.5 hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week," Chloe McLeod said.

   "They also recommend doing muscle strengthening activities on at least two days per week."

   If your goal is to lose weight, Chloe McLeod recommends aiming for the upper end of the scale.

   "If you are training for an event or competition then you will need to do conditioning and resistance training specific to that event."

   And don't forget about incidental exercise like gardening, cleaning and walking to the shops, which can quickly add up throughout the week.

   "Find what you like doing. Maybe you don't like running but enjoy swimming -- you could go swimming for half an hour three times a week. Then suddenly you've met your vigorous intensity physical activity guidelines."

How much is too much exercise?

   Although many Australians don't exercise enough, for those who exercise frequently or intensely, it is certainly possible to overdo it, which can compromise your results.

  "There definitely is such thing as too much exercise," McLeod said. "Each individual will have an individual threshold for what constitutes too much exercise."

   For some people, particularly athletes, exercising in excess of the guidelines may just be part of their program.

   "It needs to be taken on an individual basis. As an example, I work with a lot of triathletes, so people who are doing Ironman and 70.3 events, and they're training 15 plus hours per week, which is obviously well in excess of what the guidelines are. But if those individuals weren't doing that levels of training, they wouldn't be able to participate in their sports," McLeod said.

   "However, for others that would be too much exercise, so it's about looking at how fit the individual is, what their goals are, how they're fuelling their body for the training they're doing, and what their medical history is."

   While there's no one answer to 'how much is too much exercise', there are distinct signs you may experience.

  "Over-exercising can cause an energy imbalance (between the amount of energy consumed and the amount of energy expended during exercise). If you're in an energy deficit for an extended period of time it can cause many health issues," McLeod said.

     "Too much exercise can lead to injuries, exhaustion and hormonal imbalance."

How important are rest days?

    According to McLeod , rest days are important for overall health and performance, and can actually help you reach your goals more easily and quickly.

  "Rest days are essential. When you allow your body to rest, that's when the magic happens. This is when your body is able to rest, regenerate, rebuild and repair," McLeod said.

     Rest days also help with injury reduction and help prevent overuse injuries.

   "Not resting often enough can actually make it harder to reach your goals. For example, maybe you're trying to train for that IronMan event but aren't incorporating enough rest into the program, and it can have a negative impact on training," McLeod said.