Because regular exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, rarely, if ever, does a coach raise the idea of exercising too much. Which is exactly why I think we should take a look at a topic many athletes ignore: over-training.
The benefits of regular exercise are well known, including weight control; strengthening of the heart, bones and muscles; increased longevity and reduction of the risks of certain diseases.
Some benefits are achieved by doing as little as ten minutes of exercise per day. If a little is good, then more exercise must be better, right?
Not necessarily. Too much of a good thing can undo the gains you’ve been working toward.
How much is too much?
Interesting data on over-training come from cardiologist Michel White, who serves as the Director of the Heart Failure Research Program at the Montreal Heart Institute.
During a conference I attended, Dr. White presented interesting statistics from extensive research on the topic of heart health and extreme sports. He counseled that the benefits of exercise appear to plateau beyond 50 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise per day.
Research has found that extreme endurance sports like marathons, ultramarathons and Ironman triathlons may lead to heart damage. The conclusion is that beyond fifteen hours of exercise per week, you are more than likely causing more harm than good.
Furthermore, while moderate exercise can improve the immune system, excessive exercise can actually suppress it. This is certainly something to take into account, especially now.
Moderation is key
The recommendation, for most adults, is to exercise or practice a sport at a moderate level for about an hour a day, four to six days a week.
Some days you may exercise longer. If so, make sure that it is not something you do repeatedly. Rest and recovery days are every bit as important as training days.