Too much of a good thing–can you do too much exercise?

Given that most people aren’t active enough, the message “move more” seems like a good one. But it is possible to do too much. my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week discusses the potential hazards of doing too much exercise as well as how to avoid this situation.

For most people, the biggest risk for doing too much comes when they begin an exercise program. Progressing too quickly to longer time and/or higher intensity exercise can lead to muscle soreness or injury. A common guideline is the 10% rule: don’t increase your time or intensity more than 10% at a time. Although increases of 10% may not always be practical—a 10% increase from a 30 minute jog is 33 minutes—the message to increase slowly is a good one. Incidentally, this New York Times article suggests that there isn’t any good evidence that following the 10% rule reduces injury risk. That said, going from a 30 minute run to 60 minutes is too much, too soon.

One way to get guidance on how to progress in an exercise program is to consult a fitness professional, like a personal trainer. Sadly, many people get injured, or at least have a bad exercise experience, because of an overly ambitious personal trainer. Make sure you find someone who has experience with novice exercisers to help reduce this risk.

Despite the potential hazards of doing too much exercise, most people should worry about not doing enough. So, get moving!

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