The Harmful Effects of Over-exercising

Regular exercise is always beneficial, but the compulsion to overdue it at the gym can lead to some serious health issues

If you’re constantly making this face during your workout, you could be over-exercising

Pushing your limits when exercising can produce great results, but over-exercising can open you up to injury and illness

Regular, moderate exercise is a cornerstone of good health, and it delivers many positive mental and physical benefits. However, intense, unrelenting, obsessive exercising can actually compromise your health.

Yes, it is possible to over-exercise. For some people, exercising can become a compulsion, perhaps a response to a need to be in control, or perhaps because of self-esteem or body image issues.

Such people might exercise hard two or more times a day, seven days a week, and they may even feel guilty or stressed if they miss a day. While it’s true that elite athletes train hard, and perhaps even daily, they follow a strictly supervised training regimen and they don’t necessarily exercise all-out every day.

Signs You’re Over-exercising

Overdoing it at the gym (whatever the reason) can invite injury and illness. Frequent, improperly planned training doesn’t give the body time to recover – muscles need up to 48 hours to repair – and the longer and harder you exercise, the more fatigued you become.

Fatigue compromises exercise form, which can lead to injury. Intense exercise can also lower the body’s resistance to illness. Recent research indicates that excessive exercise may even lead to permanent heart damage. Here are some warning signs that you may be overdoing it:

  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Muscle soreness
  • Suffering frequently from colds and headaches
  • Resting heart rate 8-10 beats per minute faster than normal (taken just before getting out of bed in the morning)
  • Swollen nodes or glands in the neck, groin or armpits
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Drop in physical performance
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Loss of menstruation

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.