Is it possible to exercise *too* much?
When it comes to some things (like your nail polish collection or the number of goals you scored during the last soccer season), the more the better. But does that same mindset apply to the gym, too?
While working out regularly is great for your mind and bod, pushing yourself too hard or living by the "no days off" rule can actually be pretty dangerous. That's because, as Dr. John-Paul Rue, an orthopedic surgeon at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., explains, you build muscle through the process of breaking down muscle fibers and then repairing them. "If you are constantly working out the same muscle groups every day, these muscles don’t get the amount of rest they need to repair themselves and get stronger."
OK, you get that but how do you know if you're actually overexercising? The most common symptoms include pain, swelling and weakness but there are also mental side effects of going too hard, too often (stress, burnout, anxiety, etc.).
Knowing how much is enough vs. how much is, well, too much, can be tough and it's different for everyone. Dr. Rue suggests a good balance of cardio (biking, swimming, walking, etc) and strength training. "In general, it is recommended that you don’t run more than 3 days per week, or you can increase your risk of overuse injuries such as tendinitis or stress injuries," he notes. Don't forget to mix up your muscle moves, too, so you aren't training the same area day after day.
Above all, "Listen to your body and give it the rest it needs…if you are having pain, you probably need to decrease the intensity or duration of your workout," advises Dr. Rue. And remember that your bod repairs itself while you're snoozing so scoring at least 8 hours of sleep each night is key to stay healthy and injury-free during your sweat seshes.
Have you ever exercised too much? Share your experiences below!
We want to hear from you! Send us your weirdest body questions here (seriously, we'll answer anything!) and it just might get featured.