The vast majority of men and women in the United States are constantly worried about not getting enough exercise. Working out is hard to fit into a busy schedule, particularly when free time is scarce.
Though exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, it is also important to avoid overdoing the workout routine. For most adults, exercising between 30 and 45 minutes a day is enough to gain the benefits of exercise without changing the benefits to extreme fatigue. Find a workout program that works for you by signing up for a PRO Plan today for access to certified personal trainers, workout plans, nutrition trackers, and more!
It is quite common for fitness newcomers to fall prey to overtraining – a condition in which your body at best hits a plateau and at worst enters a full-blown catabolic state.
Catabolism is a breaking down within living organisms of complex tissues into simpler tissues, and it happens as a result of a negative nitrogen balance in the body. For anyone who is trying to burn fat and increase lean muscle mass, the situation is one that should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, many gym-goers are completely oblivious to the concept of catabolism and what it does to the body.
This destructive catabolic state occurs primarily due to the hormone cortisol. This steroidal hormone is naturally released by the adrenal gland during states of high physical and mental stress. While it is a completely normal function of the body, excess cortisol release can have a drastic negative impact on the body. It can lead to the weakening of joints and osteoporosis as well as fat increase in the abdominal region. Cortisol primarily harms the body in three ways:
- Breaking Down Tissues and Canceling Potential Growth
- Converting Protein to Glucose
- Reducing the Body’s Protein Synthesis Abilities
The most common cause of excess cortisol release in physically active individuals is lack of rest. Strength training and intense aerobic activity also lead to microscopic tearing in the muscle fibers, and the muscles cannot heal and grow without proper rest. This is a major pitfall in the world of bodybuilding, particularly for amateurs who are new to the endeavor and want to spend hours upon hours in the gym.
With studies showing that excess cortisol levels are released in the body even after only an hour of exercise, it is important to limit your sessions to no longer than 45 minutes.
Excess cortisol isn’t the only negative symptom of working out longer than 45 minutes. There are various other side effects that come with overdoing it in the gym, one of which is the increased risk of injury. For heavy weightlifters, this tends to manifest itself through joint problems such as tendinitis and dislocations. These overuse conditions can be avoided by utilizing proper technique and keeping one’s workout sessions to 45 minutes or less.
Overtraining has negative implications beyond just those associated with the body. Workout enthusiasts who overdo it in the gym are more prone to suffering from irritability, anxiety, and depression. This comes back to the release of excess cortisol in the body, creating an unhealthy hormone imbalance. These negative repercussions are more likely to go unnoticed as they can be much more subtle than their physical counterparts.
If the mental and physiological shortcomings aren’t bad enough, there is another troubling symptom of overtraining: the weakening of the immune system. Studies have shown that overtraining can cause rapidly decreased levels of antibodies in one’s system, leaving one increasingly susceptible to illnesses. Since one can’t work out when he or she is sick, this can be extremely detrimental to the level of progress that one wishes to attain through exercise.
Benefits of Moderate Exercise
Moderate exercise is working out between 30 and 45 minutes a day. This is the best range for any type of exercise, regardless of whether it is cardiovascular exercise or weight training. Numerous benefits result from moderate exercise and include:
- Lower Risk of Developing Numerous Health Conditions: Conditions that are helped with this amount of exercise include diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer risks associated with obesity.
- Lower Body Weight: Exercising regularly will naturally result in a higher metabolism and better fat-burning potential in the body. This causes a lower body weight.
- Decreased Stress Hormones in the Body: The stress hormone cortisol is reduced and rebalanced after exercising. This helps reduce overall stress and helps the body relax.
- Better Sleep: Insomnia is a problem of the past when regular exercise is part of a daily routine.
- Increased energy: Cardiovascular exercise, in particular, results in increased energy levels. This means getting through the day is no longer a chore.
- Reduction of Boredom: It is difficult to remain bored while exercising, especially if you exercise with a friend.
Get More Out of Your Exercises. Go PRO!Sign Up
Downfall of Too Much Exercise
While it might seem odd to think that it is possible to get too much exercise, it is possible to overstress and overwork the muscles. Exercise fatigue is a common problem among those who work out for too long.
In general, it is better to avoid over-exercising because too much of a good thing can have negative effects. The common negative effects associated with too much exercise include:
- Insomnia: While an appropriate amount of exercise makes it easier to sleep, too much has the opposite effect. It will make sleep a challenge.
- High Stress Levels: Over-exercising results in cortisol production after the muscles begin to become fatigued. The goal of exercise is to lower the stress hormone, but too much exercise results in an increased production of the hormone instead.
- High Injury Risks: Tired muscles that are overstressed can increase the risk of injuries during and after the exercise is complete.
- Weakened Immune System: After a certain point, too much exercise results in a lower resistance to sicknesses.
Improving Health With Exercise
We all know that health is improved with exercise; the key is avoiding the point of over-exercising that leads to muscle fatigue and health problems. Determining where to set a balance is a necessary part of maintaining great health. Understanding the factors that relate to improving health with exercise is the first step in creating a cut-off point.
One major factor is the mindset behind exercise. Difficult goals reduce the motivation to exercise, while simple goals are easier to keep up with. Exercise should not become a chore and should not be a necessary part of the day. Instead, it should be something enjoyable that can be worked around a busy schedule.
Another key component is current physical fitness level. An athlete who has worked up his or her stamina will be able to spend more time exercising than someone who is just starting out. Those who are just beginning should begin with only a few minutes at a time and gradually increase over time as it becomes easier.
Current health is another factor to consider when determining an appropriate exercise amount. Any individual who has diabetes, high blood pressure, or similar conditions should discuss exercise with their doctor beforehand to avoid overworking the body. This is particularly true of heart-related problems since exercise causes the heart to work faster.
The final factor in determining a good amount of exercise is personal stamina. Stamina in exercise takes time to build up and is a large factor in determining a good length of time when just starting out. Even those who have excellent stamina should keep exercise to around 45 minutes at a time to avoid overworking the muscles.
Getting the Most Out of Exercise
Since it is not necessary to work out for hours every day, it is then a matter of getting the most out of the 30 to 45 minute time period.
Depending on individual goals for exercise, the best results will require different forms of exercise or routines. This means that if the goal is building up muscle or gaining strength, the exercise plan and routine will differ from a goal of losing weight and slimming down.
Regardless of the specific goal, most individuals will have the best results when combining aerobic exercise with weight training.
Weight training builds up the muscle, allowing the body to form more muscle mass and thus effectively burn more calories throughout the day. Aerobic exercise is high-intensity cardiovascular exercise that burns fat while strengthening the heart.
Anyone who has a goal of weight loss or losing excess fat should ensure that more days include cardiovascular exercise than weight training. With this goal, the ideal is having around four to five days of high-intensity aerobic exercise and around two days of weight training to avoid the loss of muscle mass.
Those who are trying to build more muscle should opt for a slightly less cardiovascular intensive routine by cutting it back to three or four days with around three days of weight training.
Working out does not need to require excessive time periods. Instead, opt for a less time-constraining routine that stops at 45 minutes. This will result in a healthy lifestyle without the fatigue of overtraining.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many days a week should I work out?
A minimum of three days a week is recommended.
Can I work out twice in one day?
You can, however, it important that you do not overtrain and injure yourself. If you plan on tackling two-a-days, it is imperative that you program rest days into your routine.
Can I exercise if I am sore?
If you are mildy sore, it is okay to exercise. However, if your muscles are very sore, either take a rest day or train the unaffected body parts.
As you develop a workout plan that’s right for you, make sure you have a fitness pro in your corner. Join our Pro plan today for access to certified personal trainers, workout plans, and more!