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Healthy Weight Center

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Exercise?

03/11/2009

Question:

Several of us have recently joined a health club--we normally go 5 to 6 times a week and do about 45 minutes to 1 hour of cardio/fat burning. For example, 15 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes on the Precor, and 25 minutes of Treadmill exercise. We have also been eating right, cutting a large portion of fat out of our diet, eating fruits and vegtables, baking instead of frying, etc. I thought that with everything, all the exercise and the change in diet I would notice a difference within a couple of months. However, this is not the case. We have heard, that too much exercise is not good for you and that we should only exercise 3 to 4 times a week, and not consecutively, because we are not giving our bodies a chance to rest and have the exercise take affect. My question is two-fold: 1. Is there such a thing as too much exercise? 2. How much weight loss is average for a person that exercises 5 to 6 times a week; 45 minutes to 1 hour each time; and, with a change in diet.

Answer:

Thanks for your questions. It sounds as though your group is doing a great job of staying healthy. As for your question `can there be too much exercise`, my answer is yes AND no. Yes-it is too much if you are exercising when you feel ill, sore or physically too tired. Or, if you are pushing yourself to exercise when you`ve got an injury- you`re certainly not giving yourself time to recover, and that is bad. However, health experts suggest regular exercise of at least 3-5 times/week. So, if you`re doing moderate physical activity for 45-60 minutes/6 times/week, this seems fine to me. As for how much you would expect to lose from exercise and diet change- that really depends on your starting weight and your calorie consumption. Typically, the more weight you have to lose, the easier it is to lose. So, if you have 40 pounds to lose, it will come off easier than if you only have 10 pounds to lose. Your body will hold onto weight the closer your weight is to `normal weight`. In addition, muscle weighs more than fat. So, if you`re exercising regularly, you may be `gaining` muscle weight and losing fat. Your body will be more toned, but the scale may not reflect a loss in weight. Your calorie intake must be LESS than your output to lose weight. So, if your body needs 1800 calories per day to maintain weight and you`re eating 1500, you may lose weight (about 1/2-1 pound/week). If you only need 1800, but you`re eating 2100, you may gain weight or maintain it (depending on how much you are burning during exercise). You may want to seek the advice of a sports nutritionist or registered dietitian to help you in your weight loss endeavor. Most people overestimate their calorie consumption, so it`s possible you are consuming more calories than you think. You can locate one through the American Dietetic Association or Nutricise Finally, if you are not losing weight- don`t worry about it. It is better to be a little heavier but fit, than to be normal or even thin and out of shape.

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati