How much exercise is too much exercise?

gym weights and equipment

When I was working as a personal trainer, the question of too much exercise, or over exercising, often came up. Some of my clients hoped working out twice per day would help them reach their goals faster whether it was bulking up or slimming down. Others were training for their first triathlon, which often requires twice a day workouts and had them wondering, "Can I exercise twice per day? Once in the morning and at night? Is that safe or healthy?"

Instead of saying "yes" or "no" I would ask my clients whether they think it's best for them --and why.

For my triathlete clients, exercising twice a day often made sense for their goals. Triathlons require a lot of training time across three sports so if my client needed to bike 15 miles and swim 20 laps that day, it made more sense to break that up before and after work rather than getting up at 3 or 4 a.m. to do both back-to-back.

For everyone else, once a day was usually sufficient to reach their goals. It’s also important to keep the type of ‘workout’ in perspective, too. For example, I see no problem with a client doing bootcamp at 6 a.m. and then doing a little yoga before bed if she is feeling stressed or restless, or going for a run in the morning and then playing a game of basketball with friends that night. Technically, those are two workouts in one day, but that is healthy -- a fine example of keeping an active lifestyle.

I have always found that my exercise has a natural ebb and flow -- I have days where I am more active and days where I am less active. Most days fall somewhere in between these two points.

In closing remarks, I do applaud anyone's initiative to maintain an active lifestyle -- but if you feel compelled to exercise excessively everyday, you could be displaying Compulsive Exercise behaviors--where exercise becomes detrimental rather than healthy or helpful.

Remember for weight loss and fitness, diet is more important than exercise!

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