Working up a sweat and giving your muscles and whole system a workout can be invigorating and a great physical challenge that really improves your fitness levels and burns fat, however, the key to aerobic workout success is ensuring that you create cardio burn rather than cardio burnout from overdoing it.
There are some people who work out to the point of exhaustion and yet never seem to achieve the results they so desperately seek. It can be fairly demotivating to those with little exercise experience who often theorize that if someone who is burning it up cannot get where they want to go fitness wise, then how are they ever going to succeed when they are doing so much less. The fact is that while cardio is an essential element of keeping fit, too much can leave your body’s resources depleted and have a detrimental effect on your overall fitness.
How many people leave the gym or a training session feeling starved and head straight for a takeout? After burning calories it is natural that you might feel a little peckish but if you overdo the exercise then your body is going to be craving some calories each time you put it through its paces. Unless you have a good nutrition plan in place then the result could be late night snacking or grabbing tasty treats which combat the positives of the exercise. If you constantly seem to be ravenous then look at not just what you eat but how much cardio you are packing into a week too.
Higher oxygen needs mean that the body produces more free radicals. These are increased due to a higher metabolism and greater demands for energy. When these free radicals outweigh the body’s natural antioxidants this leads to oxidative stress on the body. Too much cardio can impact the body in this way and lead to cell damage which may contribute to ageing and at worst contribute to heart disease and cancer. It is important to decrease free radicals with superfoods such as raspberries and blueberries which are rich in antioxidants, as well as not overdoing aerobic and endurance exercise.
Lower testosterone, as a result of too much cardio can lead to a lower metabolic rate and increased body fat. In women, there are strong findings about how cardio can benefit the body and help protect against certain cancers in the recovery process too. However, too much exercise can disrupt estrogen levels and this can create all types of issues for women, including problems with fertility and weight gain.
Stress on the body
If you burn yourself out with cardio then your body starts to produce higher levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone. This leads to the muscles breaking down and fat storage to increase. Cardio is a great way to release tensions in the body and the mind but too much could begin to create stress in your system which has the opposite effect.
Highs & lows
When you work out you get a boost of adrenaline coursing through your system. This acts like a fuel injection in your body but if you swamp the body with adrenaline then this can trigger an addictive response to it. While cardio stimulates feel-good reactions in the body through neurotransmitters, those who overdo cardio often find that they have a need to exercise to keep them from feeling low. Exercise makes them feel higher and reduces the feeling of being down but this can become a problem when someone feels they need to work out like crazy just to feel normal.
Cardio-overload not only stops your fitness progress in its tracks but the result can be pure exhaustion. Adrenal burnout can cause you to crash and burn and over time your body may feel as if it is tackling a real uphill struggle. The exercise gets harder and you feel less energized to deal with the demands of the habit you have created.
So how much is too much? Moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day is ideal, with a good cardio workout a couple of times a week at most. Try adding in some stretches and strength training for a more balanced exercise approach. Cardio can be really effective in strengthening the cardiovascular system so it’s important to not let the fear of a burnout snuff out your motivation to workout.