How Much Training is Healthy?

Physical exercise keeps you young in the mind and body, this is indisputable, but too much exercise can damage your health. Where do you draw the line?

Sport keeps you fit and ensures that body and mind stay strong, there is no doubt about it. Again and again, new studies confirm the positive effects of regular exercise, in any form whatsoever. However, one shouldn't overdo it. Too much ambition coupled with high performance goals often leads to dangerous overtraining in amateur sports. How does this happen?

Sport tires the body out. This is normal, and is a reflection of the stimuli we feel when we do sports. The positive effects of these stimuli are: sustainable and strengthened muscles, benefits to the immune system and reduced stress. These positive changes to the body are made during the periods of rest in between workouts, as they are the results of small adjustments made in the body. This is part of the natural mechanism that the body uses to get used to harder workouts. Endurance and strength therefore increase each time after exercise, but are part of a slow process. The more often we work out, the more the body adapts, as long as we don't do too much.

As long as your body has enough time to rest and regenerate between activities, you won't have any problems. 

Overload harms the body though. The first signs of overdoing it are constant fatigue, weakness, insomnia, decreased appetite, listlessness and depression. In the long run, the effects can be quite harmful: performance decreases, susceptibility to injury increases, and the immune system is weakened. This leaves the body are extremely susceptible to disease and illness.

Unfortunately make many amateur athletes make the error of trying to compensate for this decrease in performance by overtraining. This can lead to overtraining syndrome. Should this really happen, you'll need to take a break for several weeks. In extreme cases, chronic injury and cardiovascular disease are the result of overtraining syndrome.

Here, prevention is very simple. Most importantly, just listen to your body. Your body knows when you have trained too hard or too often. Especially when you feel pain, lack of energy or a decrease in overall health, a time out is called for. The body needs a break, because it is no longer able to cope with the stress appropriately.

It is still possible to do some form of sports every day, but you do need to vary your exercises. Switch up your activities. Alternate training days for upper body and lower body strength, for example. This way, untrained muscles have time to recover.

If you are the kind of person who is passionate about one sport, the 5/2 method is an alternative strategy. Outline the average amount of training and time you spend doing sports per week. One should train two to five times for a total of two to five hours each week. Suppose the upper limit of the 5/2 strategy has already been reached, or you've already trained five times a week for a total of five hours. Then you know you need at least two days off a week to recover.

Also keep in mind that the toll on your body depends on the intensity of the workout. The body recovers much more quickly from thirty minutes of moderate jogging than it does from running a marathon. The more intense the exposure, the more important the subsequent regeneration phase.

In this sense: get out there and get your sports on, but don't forget to rest. Only by resting can you improve your long term goals and stay healthy.