Regular exercise makes you stronger, fitter and more flexible. It can add as much as ten years to your lifespan – but can you have too much of a good thing? The surprising answer to this question is yes. Over-exercising can have a serious negative impact on your health, affecting you both physically and psychologically. It’s important to be aware of the types of problems that can develop so you can spot the warning signs early and make appropriate changes to your exercise regimen.
Perhaps the most obvious danger of exercising too much is that it places a strain on the heart. It’s not just sudden heart attacks that are cause for concern, however. The heart can respond to exercise like any other muscle, by becoming thicker and tougher, but this isn’t good for its long-term health. Arteries can grow wider to make room for increased blood flow, which means they won’t function as well when you’re at rest. People who take exercise to extremes run an increased risk of developing heart arrhythmia and suffering strokes.
If you’re going to build up your muscles, it’s important to be tough enough to push through the burn. However, if you push too hard, you can cause sprains and strains or even kill off muscle fibers, which your body can’t replace. It’s important to learn to distinguish between good and bad pain, which is something that a professional trainer can help you with. You can reduce your risk of injury by making sure that you maintain good posture during exercise and wearing compression clothing. Official Tommy Copper products are designed to support your body so you get more out of your performance and stay safer, and they include everything from shoulder support products to shorts.
Overly intense exercise reduces your levels of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. This can lead to a reduction in bone density, especially in women and people who are lightly built, eventually causing osteoporosis if it’s left unchecked. Your sex drive can decrease as a result. Women may stop menstruating, resulting in temporary infertility, while men may find that they put on fat more easily despite working out.
Although exercise can be a good way to work off stress, too much of it increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to irritability and feelings of frustration or anxiety. This can create a vicious cycle wherein you become stressed about your own perceived failure to achieve your exercise goals but working harder to do so is actually making you worse.
Immune system suppression
Because it improves your general health, exercise will normally strengthen your immune system over time. When you push yourself to an extreme, however, there’s a short-term damaging effect. For around three days – longer if you keep reinforcing the damage – you won’t have as many active immune cells as you should, making you more vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections. If you seem to be suffering from unusually frequent colds or skin rashes, let your doctor know that you exercise a lot and get your blood counts checked.
Exercise can be addictive because of the endorphin rush it spurs. Some people develop an unhealthy obsession with keeping fit, often accompanied by orthorexia, an obsession with healthy eating that can actually cause serious health problems. In addition, exercising too much increases your risk of developing depression. It can cause sleep disturbances and insomnia, make it more difficult to concentrate during the daytime, and it can even lead to anger problems. As they get worse, these conditions make it harder to engage effectively with professional sources of help like psychiatrists, so it’s important to nip them in the bud.
Despite all these risks, exercise remains important. How can you make sure that you get a healthy amount of it and don’t go too far? The single best thing to do is keep a log of your training activity that also includes data on your general health, including information such as days when you have a low mood. This will enable you to identify any issues that are getting worse.
If you’re training for competition at a senior level and really pushing your body to the limit, you should be getting regular blood tests to monitor your health. Although you may feel under pressure to conceal minor injuries so you don’t miss out on important events, keep in mind that this could put your long-term sporting career at risk.
Exercise, like all things, needs to be enjoyed in moderation. It’s getting the balance right – not driving yourself incessantly – that will enable you to become the best you can be.