How much cardio is too much? Y delves into the world of cardio fitness to find out how too much exercise could lead to illness and injury.
The key to a healthy lifestyle begins with the first step you take. Those initial steps, however, can turn into several more – sometimes more than your body should experience in a day.
Whether you know when to stop those long hours of circuit training, cycling, running, walking, or swimming – in short, the pillars that form the basis of cardiovascular (or simply ‘cardio’) activities – determines your health and well-being.
Cardio can help in quick weight-loss – it’s a fact.
Though, shedding off those unnecessary calories quickly can often lead to over-exertion through cardio which forms the basis of a condition known as ‘cardio overload’.
As odd a concept as it may seem to those who live to crunch the miles and get their hearts pumping, it’s an important matter that’s gaining traction as we learn that too much cardio can do your body more harm than good.
Here are some reasons why you might consider dialing back on the cardio and perhaps incorporating other forms of exercise into your regimen:
1) It can weaken your heart.
A broken heart (figuratively) can be the best motivation to hit the treadmill, but research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the US states that it could lead to life-threatening complications. For instance, the study showed that people who run marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons, and other endurance sports could suffer from heart dysfunction, plaque buildup, stiff arteries, and other cardiac problems arising from a weakened right ventricle.
2) You could gain more weight.
You heard us right. Doing too much cardio can result in weight-gain. This comes from the ‘stress’ hormone cortisol that’s released in small doses when you’ve strained your body for hours. Cortisol can trick your brain into storing more fat by failing to break down sugar. Now you know why you can’t shake off that abdomen and love handles.
3) You’ll pick up on overuse injuries.
Cardiovascular exercise requires body movements – and too much of that can cause a strain in your knees, ankles, hips, and lower back. Your pain exerted on your body will persuade you to stop, but those who ignore those calls can often find themselves struck down with severe forms of injuries (example: an ACL tear).
4) There’s no energy left in you.
While many believe that a long, strenuous cardio session boosts your energy levels, burning too many calories in one go can leave your mental and physical well-being at an all-time low.
All of this can combine to result in you dreading your exercise. A solution to this, as per Jean-Paul Johnson, a fitness instructor and nutritionist based out of Oman is to keep a healthy balance between cardio and workouts.
He says: “Feeling constantly tired or having to deal with regular injuries can leave your mental health lower than ever too. A way to change that would be to incorporate yoga into your routine.
“Not only does it help your mind and body ease a bit. It can be a good transition for cardio-seekers. Also, it lowers your body’s cortisol levels alongside your blood pressure.”
Another solution to this condition is strength training; the obverse of cardio.
Strength training focuses on maintaining muscle mass and will boost your resting metabolic rate. This can include lifting weights, doing push-ups, squats, jabs, and even leg presses.
As Jean-Paul says: “Cardio training can be amazing for your health when done in short doses, but it’s important to balance it with strength training to achieve better and longer-lasting results.”
Editor’s Note: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek the advice of a medical expert if you have any questions regarding a health issue.