Exercising at the correct intensity for your level of fitness and stress is very beneficial. However, over-exercising pushes you to the point of diminishing returns.
Exercise makes you stronger by first stressing the body and breaking it down. With adequate rest and balanced nutrition the body recovers and adapts by becoming stronger.
If you are over-exercising, your efforts at becoming fit could actually be making you fat.
What is over-exercising?
Is it working out until you puke, or so that you can barely move the next day, or exercising intensely for hours at a time, or never take a day off? Yes, it is all of those things. However, if you are not already moderately fit, it could take a lot less than that to over do it.
The sad reality is that many Americans are in a state of constant stress in their day to day lives, which means that they are breaking their bodies down on a regular basis without fully recovering from life itself. For those individuals even climbing a flight of stairs could be over-exercising.
Those folks are constantly under physical stress and therefore swimming in the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol encourages body fat storage and inhibits fat burning. Probably not what you are hoping to accomplish with your workouts. Further, cortisol causes carbohydrate cravings that invariably lead to weight gain.
As a health club owner, I found that many of my members believed that if they worked out hard every day they would get stronger. The reality is that your body becomes stronger and leaner during the recovery from exercise, not during the workout itself. By over-exercising your body never gets a chance to recover and is therefore constantly breaking down.
Not only is this counter productive, but it ages you, and causes muscle degradation that can lead to injury.
Another consequence of breaking your system down is that it drains your body of its serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter. Low serotonin can lead to depression and most certainly more carbohydrate cravings in your body’s attempt to replenish its serotonin stores.
Over-exercise can also cause insomnia, hindering the body’s ability to burn fat as well as leaving you too tired to exercise.
How can you make your fitness routine work for you not against you?
Once you have your stress managed and are eating a healthy balanced nutritious diet, then you are ready to take on the extra stress of exercise.
To achieve a fit, lean physique you don’t need to spend more than 45min. to 1 hr. in the gym, working at a moderately high intensity doing weight resistance training, 3 days a week.
On other days you could enjoy cardiovascular exercises like cycling, hiking or swimming. Incorporate stretching wherever you can, and for heaven’s sake get some rest.
For guidance and support with a personalized exercise program contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 301-332-5732.