Our modern, sedentary lives make our cardiovascular system frail and muscles weaker. To counterbalance this, we exercise in our recreational time to help boost our metabolism and lose weight. However, too much exercise can hinder weight loss and even worsen mental health. How much is too much exercise?
Signe Svanfeldt, lead nutritionist at Lifesum (opens in new tab), and recent research (opens in new tab) suggest there is such a thing as overtraining. Pro athletes have known the benefits of not overexercising – you must have heard the term 'off-season' before – but it's only recently that the concept caught the public's attention. Killing yourself on the gym floor might not result in quicker weight loss results, no matter what Instagram fitness influencers try to make you believe.
Overtraining can cause fatigue, irritability, sleep issues, anxiety, and injuries – it can even make you ill. The most common reason for overtraining in the general population is wanting to see quick results, but the actual impact of too much exercise is quite the opposite; pushing your body too hard, too soon will lead to adverse effects. Exercising the recommended amount, following a regular sleeping pattern and eating more healthily will help you stay on track with your exercise and weight loss routine.
What is a healthy amount of daily exercise to have?
"Regular physical activity is great for our overall health and well-being, but there's no need to have an excessive workout routine to lose weight or visceral fat," Signe Svanfeldt explains, "Many believe that you need to incorporate as much endurance training as possible in your workout to lose weight. However, nutrition is the number one factor when it comes to weight loss."
She says that a nutritious and balanced diet in line with your energy requirement is critical: "WHO recommends that adults include at least 150-300 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per week, or at least 75-150 minutes of vigorous/intense aerobic activity (or a combination of the two), plus strength training that activates larger muscle groups at least two days per week."
We recommend a combination of resistance training and cardio for long-term weight loss. Resistance training is any training when you work against resistance, whether it's curling dumbbells or doing push-ups or squats. If you're not used to exercising, light to moderate cardio exercise (e.g. brisk walking) after meals could help keep blood sugar levels at bay and aid digestion.