When we get swept up by a gust of motivation it can be tempting to take it all the way — hitting the studio daily, doubling down on cardio and pushing our bodies to the limit. But did you know that working out too much can actually hurt our metabolisms? 

The truth is there’s a fine line between going hard and going too hard. Overdoing it in the name of #fitgoals can actually dampen our metabolisms and stress our bodies out. Hormone expert and best-selling author, Dr. Sara Gottfried, explains…

Fitness As A Behaviorceutical The biggest misconception is that fitness is for weight loss. I think of exercise as a behaviorceutical — it’s for brain-body balance.

It’s better than any prescription for getting hormones, stress response, and focus on point. When it comes to weight, fitness and exercise is just part of the equation. We also need to pay great attention to food quality, quantity and timing.

Still, I find my patients believe erroneously that working out is the most important route to a healthy body and push themselves to spend countless hours at the gym several times a week. While exercise is vital for a happy body and mind, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. In fact, pounding it at the gym may be counterproductive to your hormones — in particular, the ones involved with the body’s metabolism, how it burns and stores fat and mitigates stress.

What Happens If I Workout Excessively?If you work out excessively, particularly when not completely recovered or warmed up, you increase the risk of injury and overdrive, a state of over-activated and unbalanced stress load. Overdrive can lead to dysfunction of the control system for hormones, called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-thyroid-gonadal (HPATG) axis.

Not only will it break your metabolism, over-exercising spikes your body’s stress response system, causing the hormone cortisol to elevate. The longer your workout, even at a moderate intensity, the more cortisol your body releases. High-intensity interval training transiently spikes the hunger hormone (ghrelin) causing you to eat more. Bottom line: Intense cardio will actually do more harm than good.

How Much Should I Workout?The general recommendation is to exercise twenty to thirty minutes per day four times per week. That’s it. No need to rearrange your whole schedule. (You can do this!)

It’s equally as important to sit less and move more. Incorporate small movements throughout your day, like when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or park far away and walk. Do some jumping jacks when you get up in the morning — any movement is good movement, especially when you’re prone to sitting for long durations.

Trust me, you will be better off when you learn to workout appropriately, rest and recover, rather than pushing your body to the max.

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs. 

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