Is it Possible to Exercise Too Much?

You decide to challenge yourself at the gym and tack on a lot more weight or time to your workout. But instead of feeling great, you're depleted, sore, and generally terrible. What happened? Did you exercise too much? Get-Fit Guy explains.

Ben Greenfield
2-minute read

You’ve probably experienced this: You do a workout that pushes you just a bit further than you’ve pushed yourself before. Maybe you spent some extra time in the gym - or a lot of extra time. Maybe you tacked on many extra minutes to your weekly run. Maybe you added a 20-pound weight to your lunges.

Regardless of the change, after the workout, rather than feeling amazing, you feel beat up, sore, and excessively tired.

Is it possible that you've exercised too much?

I’ve covered this topic before in Can Kids Exercise Too Much? and Can You Exercise Too Much?

recent article on Medscape asked this very question: How much exercise is too much? And the author observed that prolonged intense exercise training for many years appears to increase the risk for cardiac electrical abnormalities and also that some post-heart attack patients can potentially be damaged by too much exercise.

But the author also notes that a new study from the an exercise cardiology research group in Dallas shows that competitive lifelong endurance athletes have hearts that remain completely healthy. Hee also cites several other physiology studies that refute worries that too much exercise might make the heart stiff and injure the coronary arteries over time. So, in terms of risk for early death in healthy people, the data does not support the "too much exercise" hypothesis.

It’s likely that in most cases (unless you’re literally exercising for hours and hours each day), that “blah” feeling you have after too much exercise is calorie depletion, muscle damage, fluid loss, or joint pounding. It's pretty safe to say that your heart and longevity are probably going to be just fine.

Do you have more questions about whether it’s possible to exercise too much? Head over to Facebook.com/GetFitGuy and ask your questions or join the conversation there!

Man doing push-up image courtesy of Shutterstock.

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.