You May Be Exercising Too Much!
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
It's not something you'll read in the news every day (only 1 in 5 Americans get enough exercise) but it's something to consider. If you're in the group of people that get enough exercise and haven't asked yourself, "How much is enough?", then today's a good day to do exactly that. There's a very large body of evidence for the health benefits of certain amounts of moderate and intense activity, but so far there isn't evidence showing benefits beyond a certain point. So how much is enough?
The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week along with a note that you'll get even more benefit over 300 minutes (5 hours) per week. You can also find that high intensity exercise is touted as a way to improve heart health, and cuts the amount of time you need to get those health benefits in half. But after that point, there's nothing more to read. So, is there such a thing as too much of this good thing?
With a little more research, you'll find a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings showing that people who exercise more than 7.5 hours per week (over 450 minutes) are at an increased risk of developing a particular heart disease. Coronary artery calcification (CAC), easily understood as calcium buildup in your arteries, shows up more often in people who exercise at this level. This points to the real potential that too much exercise is not good for your body. This also isn't the only study showing this concerning correlation.
What we have so far isn't the final word on whether too much exercise is bad for your health, but with some groups 86% more vulnerable to CAC with this very high level of exercise, it's worth a pause. A healthy lifestyle includes a lot of exercise compared to what most of us are getting, and if you aren't over 5 hours a week yet, just keep going. If you're over 7.5 hours per week already, remember to listen to what your body tells you and adjust your goals to improve your health and how you feel, not just your stats.
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