July 22, 2011
There are people who need to exercise, and who absolutely benefit from exercise.
Exercise has rescued obese individuals from a sedentary lifestyle, saved men and women from being ravaged by cardiovascular disease, and allowed for athletes to train their body to perform above and beyond normal capacity.
But exercise also has a dark side – dangerous disadvantages that affect thousands of people each day, and those disadvantages can be summed up in these top 10 reasons exercise is bad for you.
10. Exercise is addictive.
Consistent exercise causes the body to produce endorphins, which are hormones secreted by your pituitary gland to block pain, decrease anxiety and create feelings of euphoric happiness. But endorphins are chemically similar to the drug morphine, and so for many people, compulsive exercise can be psychologically addictive. For regular exercisers, and especially for bodybuilders, triathletes, cyclists or marathoners, reducing or stopping exercise suddenly – or even missing one single workout – can result in depression, stress and anxiety.
This “mouse on a wheel” attraction to exercise can result in overtraining, missing family obligations and social gatherings because of an intense “need” to exercise, and a worry that fitness will be lost or weight will gain with a day of missed exercise. The pursuit of exercise turns from a way to experience the beauty of nature or spend time with friends to a feeling of going to work or being stuck in a rut.
The Fix: Include at least one day per week in which you do not exercise or your exercise involves no structure (such as playing a new sport). Unless you are paid for your physical performance, if your exercise ever begins to feel like a job, then switch to something new and fresh. Finally, engage in alternate ways to satisfy your brain, including cooking, wine tasting, music, new books, social events, and sex. If you do find yourself addicted to exercise, consider cognitive behavioral therapy, neurofeedback, and in severe cases, pharmaceutical interventions to break the addiction. Exercise addiction is not worth destroying your body and relationships.
9. Exercise Hurts The Heart
In one study, British researchers examined 12 runners and rowers with an average age of 57, who each had completed a total of 43 years of consistent training and 178 marathons, 65 ultramarathons, and 4 Ironman triathlons. Half of the athletes showed signs of fibrosis, or scarring of heart tissue, compared to none of age-matched “non-exercising” controls.
In addition, wear and tear of years of heavy-duty workouts or lifelong endurance exercise can weaken heart muscles – predisposing you to a condition called “ventricular arrhythmia” in which the heart beats erratically. This is probably due to damage to the right chamber of the heart, which can disrupt normal heart rate and rhythm, and this has literally put an end to the career of several pro endurance athletes, who engage in the type of training necessary for this problem to occur.
The Fix: Avoid excessive exercise, especially a combination of high intensity and high volume workouts. If you do find yourself in this situation, such as during the build-up to an Ironman triathlon, then engage in good warm-ups and proper cool-downs after each workout, and include at least one total recovery day. As much as possible, try to avoid competing in events such as an Ironman triathlon or ultra-marathon more than once per year.
8. Exercise is associated with body perception disorders.
Body dysmorphic disorder is a psychological disorder in which you are excessively concerned about a perceived defect in your physical features, such as your arm or leg muscles being to small or your waistline not being thin enough. This can result in heavy, often socially isolated exercise to “repair the defect”.
Typically, this type of activity can begin in adolescence or early adulthood, but can stay with you your entire life as you strive to achieve or maintain the “perfect body”. You may turn to bodybuilding, marathoning, cycling or any other activity which uses the same muscles over and over again to try to hammer away at your perceived defects, even when it comes to the detriment of your joints or health. If you don't have the time to exercise and address what you perceive to be a significant body issue, this can result in depression, social anxiety, and even social phobia, or complete avoidance of being in public, especially where your body might be exposed.
Often, you might justify your behavior by believing that you are a serious athlete who can never work too hard or too long at your sport, and this can often lead to excessive and addictive exercise in an attempt to control or lose weight, or sometimes to gain muscle or “sculpt” a body part.
The Fix: Learn to accept yourself for who you are, and understand that you are your own worst critic. Unless you're an actor or a model, most other people really don't care what your body looks like, so there's no reason to be embarrassed. Striving for a perfect body is an uphill battle that will always result in failure at some point, probably when you're 60, 70 or 80. There's nothing wrong with looking good, but don't become obsessed about it unless your income depends on it.
7. Exercise can break up families.
In 2010, The Wall Street Journal published the article “A Workout Ate My Marriage”, describing how couples become increasingly conflicted as a spouse becomes obsessed with a particular exercise goal, such as extreme weight loss or an Ironman triathlon – to the detriment of time spent with family. Often, since the exercise goal can be justified as “noble”, it is difficult for a spouse or family member to negotiate with the over-exerciser to spend more time with family.
The Fix: If your goals require you to exercise “excessively”, then at least attempt to include family in exercise. Join a gym with free childcare so you and the spouse can exercise together, get a jogging stroller and bicycle trailer, and train indoors with the kids at home so a spouse can go enjoy free time.
6. Exercise can cause diabetes.
In my book “Holistic Fueling For Ironman Triathletes” , I discuss the propensity for endurance athletes to spend lots of time at coffeeshops and bakeries, engaging in daily chronic consumption of scones, big “healthy” muffins, baked goodies, bagels and artisan breads. Later in the evening, post “long training day”, they're back to pastas, lasagnas, spaghettis, pizzas, and more carbohydrate laden foods. And in between these meals is a constant, steady intake of sugar packed energy bars, energy gels, energy drinks and energy chews.
Not only do these constantly surging blood sugar levels cause sugar addiction and damage to blood vessels and nerves, but they vastly increase risk for Type II diabetes as the cell surface receptors for insulin eventually become less and less sensitive to elevated insulin levels attempting to shove all the extra sugar into the muscles.
The Fix: Break the sugar addiction. Go two weeks on a low carbohydrate diet, even if it means that exercise levels are decreased. If you're addicted to exercise, changing to a lower carbohydrate intake can be near to impossible, so often, you must FIRST break the exercise addiction and then break the sugar addiction. This may require something as dramatic as an extended vacation to a place where A) you only have access to healthy food and B) do not have your bike, your gym, your swimsuit and goggles, and your running shoes.
5. Exercise destroys diets.
Whether you are trying to eat a diet lower in inflammatory compounds to manage an autoimmune disease or cancer, trying to eat a lower calorie diet to lose weight or teach your body to eat less, or trying to switch to a low carbohydrate diet as mentioned earlier, it is very hard to accomplish these nutritional changes while you are engaged in heavy exercise patterns.
This is often what causes people to stop healthy lifestyle changes: they get excited about changing their daily routine, eating better, and exercising more, but heavy exercise volume causes food cravings that make it impossible to adjust to a healthy diet, the individual becomes discouraged, and simply quits altogether.
The Fix: In my“REV Diet” book, the first phase (Reboot) involves precise instructions for reducing calories and detoxifying the body, but a key component of that phase is limited exercise significantly while the body learns to burn more fats, use less sugar as a fuel, and become accustomed to the dietary changes. One very good substitute for exercise during this time is yoga, which doesn't burn a significant number of calories, and can be done without derailing the diet.
4. Exercise causes inflammation.
Endurance exercise can increase oxygen utilization to over 10 to 20 times the resting state, and all this extra oxygen consumption then increases production of free radicals, which are produced as the oxygen is used to convert energy into ATP for muscle contractions. This enhanced free radical generation causes oxidative damage to muscles and other tissues, and although regular physical exercise can build the antioxidant free radical defense system, intense and high volume exercise can overwhelm these defenses and cause significant free radical damage.
Oxidative stress from free radicals damages cellular proteins, membranes and genes and leads to a state of chronic, systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is implicated in diseases such as cancer, heart disease, strokes, MS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, premature aging and almost any debilitating, degenerative condition you can name.
The Fix: You can certainly put a band-aid over the problem by consuming a full spectrum antioxidant, but you can only eat so many berries, nuts and dark leafy greens before your stomach gets full. Eventually, you must give your body a break from free radical damage and simply stop exercising so much. Since endurance, aerobic exercise is the biggest culprit for free radical damage, try to limit this type of training. Even in an Ironman build-up, I personally avoid doing anything more than 1 long bike, 1 long swim and 1 long run each week – and everything else is short intense bursts or high intensity interval training, which you can read about in my article “Why You're Wasting Your Time With Long, Slow Aerobic Workouts”, which explains why interval exercise can cause lower blood sugar, increased hormonal response to exercise, lower insulin levels and increased fat burning with much, much less time spent exercising.
3. Exercise is stressful.
The adrenal glands are two thumb-sized glands sitting atop your kidneys. They produce hormones like norepinephrine, cortisol and DHEA, which allow your body to respond and make adjustments to physical or emotional stress. If the intensity and frequency of the stres becomes too great, then the adrenal glands can begin to become exhausted, and the hormones that they produce can become depleted, resulting in serious imbalances that can cause issue like estrogen dominance in women or testosterone deficiencies in men.
The end result is a tired, chronically fatigued individual who has disrupted sleep, low drive, worn-out looking eyes, a set and stressed jawline, and a “skinny fat” body look no matter how much exercise they do. Sound familiar? I just described 90% of the marathoners and Ironman triathletes out there.
The Fix: In addition to incorporating the other fixes I've described such as lowering exercise and enhancing focus on recovery, you can pull yourself out of adrenal exhaustion with complete rest and recovery, avoiding caffeine and central nervous system stimulants, and also by incorporating stress-fighting and cortisol-stabilizing compounds like maca root powder and phosphatidylserine supplements.
2. Exercise damages the joints.
I was playing on the trail with my boys yesterday and a man ran by with a scowl across his face. Perhaps his sour disposition was due to the knee brace on his right leg, the exercise strap above his left IT band, and the compression sleeve on his elbow. Despite his body falling to pieces, he was limping along the trail, trying to push his body through a run. Since exercise is addictive, you'll often see endurance athletes trying to push through and continue their chronic repetitive motion training no matter what, often to the continued detriment and breakdown of the body's worn and tired joints.
I worked with a sports medicine physician for 3 years, and most endurance athletes that came in were trying to figure out how they could still do their marathon or triathlon even though they had plantar fasciitis, IT band friction syndrome, or shoulder tendonitis. They'd be miserable during their event, but would still do it. While you can certainly be “patched together” with braces, bands, sleeves, and cortisol shots to complete your event, you can end up taking years off your joints.
If you like the idea of knee replacements, hip replacements, and not being able to play in the backyard with your grandkids without teeth-gritting pain then strap on that brace and head outside to run through the pain. Otherwise, just stop.
The Fix: Run on a wide variety of running surfaces and terrains, and avoid only exercising in one plane of motion (running, cycling and swimming are typically only “front-to-back” activities). Instead, choose side-to-side motions like tennis, basketball or soccer, and attempt to address a wide range of musculature with your exercise patterns. Know when to identify whether you're just pushing through pain because you simply must exercise, and find something else to do, like read a book.
1. Exercise causes premature aging.
In 4 Easy Ways To Ensure Your Skin Doesn’t Look Like A Wrinkled Elephant From Your Outdoor Exercise Habits, I describe how to make sure your outdoor, sunny exercise doesn't end up giving you a face like a prune. But excessively wrinkled skin, which is vastly accelerated by the free radical damage mentioned earlier in this article, is not the only reason that people who exercise too much look worn and aged.
The heart has a finite number of beats, the back has a finite number of bends, and the cartilage has a finite number of shock absorptions, and once you've reached your quota, your body begins to fail. Combined with a fibrotic heart, worn adrenal glands, and chronic, systemic inflammation, you have the perfect storm for a prematurely aged and broken down body.
The Fix: In my interview with Arthur de Vany, we discuss why an exercise program of sprint interval training and brief, heavy bouts of weight training is probably better for the aging individual. When this type of protocol is combined with very limited amounts of steady endurance exercise, goals like Ironman triathlon or marathoning can still be completed without excessive body aging.
So those are the top 10 reasons why exercise is bad for you. Please don't misinterpret me, because I believe that a lifetime of healthy physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your body and your brain.
But a lifetime of indiscriminate, chronic repetitive motion exercise like a rat on a wheel is entirely another matter, and you ought to seriously reconsider your priorities if you are stuck in that rut.
Are you concerned that you may be exercising too much? Or do you think this is all blown way out of proportion? Feel free to leave your comments, questions and feedback below.
99 thoughts on “Top 10 Reasons Exercise Is Bad For You.”
Good article! Excellent work. I read to all comments. I agree all of you. That’s a great idea. It is very helpful for me. Thanks for sharing this blog.
I’m actually studying exercise physiology and this is completely incorrect. The scar tissue discussed here are from studies from Ultra Marathoners etc and yes they are true studies but they are from EXCESSIVE exercise. People can become obsessive and addicted to exercise but rarely. Please guys look at the studies before allowing someone without the relevant qualifications to teach you about the body. Personal trainers only do 200hrs of learning, so just a few weekends. This is such a profoundly inaccurate report. I’ve been exercising 5 days per week for years and my body is amazing
survivor bias? what about you aging faster like in high protein diets? what about your cells wearing out? they can only renew so many times sadly. so exercise got huge risks
Truly, exercise has cons if you do it excessively and incorrectly. I don’t want my marriage broken because of my yoga classes! Nice input. Let’s get fit without compromising anything.
I see sense in what has been expressed in this article, based on my experience. I started on 30 minutes walk at the age of 45 when doctors found my BP is on higher side and need medication. Though it helped in reducing BP, I started experiencing body pain with 10 years of daily walking. Initially, I thought it is a sign of aging. Slowly, I found that almost all the joints are paining (more so in the night) and observed swelling on both the ankles. Doctors could not find anything wrong in x-ray of joints. As the swelling increased, I was forced to abandon my daily walking. After one month, I was surprised to notice that the swelling is gone and all the body pain also gone. I have not been experiencing the body pain for more than 5 years now. I do only essential walking required for normal living and nothing towards exercising, now-a-days. Of course, the BP is at elevated levels ever since I stopped the 30 minutes walking. Now, I realize that whatever generally believed as healthy habits need not be really so. Even medical science admits that it is only beliefs and not yet proven beyond doubt. Even higher BP and higher Blood Sugar may turn out to be better for majority of the people. After all, both conditions does not show up any sign of ill-health in 98% of population.
Wow, Ben Greenfield is a complete sham and sell out. I cannot recall ever reading such a pile of unsubstantiated bull$hit. Seriously, nothing in this article can be supported by the evidence, but I do see him selling lots of products. For example, the saying exercise causes inflammation is like saying being alive causes inflammation. In reality, on balance, exercise is anti-inflammatory. Even better example, saying exercise causes diabetes is a blatant lie. The NSCA should pull your certification. Exercise can and does reverse diabetes.
Ben needs to fess up that he’s just another snake oil salesman.
I am a proponent of you can find what ever you are looking for on the internet. I appreciate your point of view, I respect it. I am a 47 year old woman who was never a runner, never really into fitness that much but who found a fitness group 2 years ago and learned to love it. Since then I’ve completed 5 Ks, 10 Ks, Tough Mudders and recently I was challenged and agreed to train for a 50 k ultra and completed that last October. It was my best physical accomplishment in my life and damn near cost me my marriage. I google searched the downside of exercise because I feel it has a downside and stumbled upon this. Although it has some merit. I feel that you, like my husband have a one-sided and a bit narrow minded approach to how beneficial accomplishing something like an ultra can be for someone’s well-being mentally and physically. I would add this advice – Find the balance – for YOU but don’t try to pigeonhole everyone into believing exercise and goals are negative.
I have severe back problems and was told to exercise to help my back. When I went to the neuro-surgeon he told me that my vertebrae were corkscrewing around my spine and exercise was the worst thing I could have done. I had back surgery and again I was told to do a multitude of things to alleviate pain. I swam, took plates and yoga classes, worked out with weights, rode my bike, took belly dance lessons, consumed a green drink daily with fresh turmeric in it for inflammation, took a multitude of vitamins and herbs supposedly to alleviate my pain. I can honestly say the exercise exacerbated my pain. I am a physical wreck because I exercised too much, too soon because of the advice from a physical therapist!! So yes, exercise is bad for you. Let’s face it, any repetitive movement of a limb or joint will cause problems and that includes exercising.
May I simply just say what a comfort to uncover somebody
that actually knows what they’re talking about on the web.
You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
More and more people should look at this and understand this side of your story.
I was surprised you’re not more popular since you most certainly have the gift.
I think its good your trying to make a point on this, but this is pure stupidity at its finest. these have been proven over and over to be completely wrong. there are only one or two that even remotely make any sense. i think you should do a little more research before you post things like this.
P.S. your giving reasons for fat people to stay fat basically giving them diabetes and letting them die so thank you for probably hurting so many people.
I used to workout 5-6 days a week and 2-4 hours of each workout! I did weight training, cardio, swimming, bicycling and lots of stretching. During this time I developed type two diabetes, high blood pressure, was diagnosed bipolar, was diagnosed with anxiety, developed major inflammation, and a mile long list of new medications Including opioids for the disc problem I had developed In my back and neck. I am now two years free of exercise and my blood blood sugar is fully under control, I no longer take opioids, my disc problem and joint inflammation problem is under control, my bipolar disorder is under control, my anxiety is under control and all of my health issues have improved! My Doc asks what’s my secret? I say no exercise! It has changed my life for the better. I have gained some weight overall but I will take the weight versus all of the pain and suffering that I had before in a second!
This might be the stupidest article I have ever read. Every single point you make can be proven false with not only extensive scientific research, but also a quick google search. You are either trying to convict yourself of something that is not true, or a complete idiot.
Hello, close minded person.
No, it is not stupid! I am in agony from exercising too much! There is a lot of truth to that article.
Thanks for helping me with my humanities essay!
I’m doing a debate and this really helped!
I’ve had a few mates argue to me that endurance athletes are some of the healthiest people on this earth……they tend not to listen without me showing quality research articles. So, I was wondering if you had any references for this post of yours? Honestly, I think it all comes down to the supercompensation law (too much stress = bad shit), which you know heaps about, but my so called “mates” (facebook trolls would be a more appropriate term) listen to nothing I say, unless I comment with links to scientific evidence.
Specifically, the fact that endurance athletes’ diets are not always ideal, and sometimes very far from ideal……….do you have any references for that?
As in, I know what Michael Phelps eats, but he doesn’t have any lifestyle disease I know about………so, I mean research documenting past elite athletes who have gotten diabetes from crappy diet?
Thanks for another great article!
Probably just best you hand them my book Beyond Training because there is ample scientific evidence in there. <a href="http://www.beyondtrainingbook.com” target=”_blank”>www.beyondtrainingbook.com
Why in the world would you say working out is stressful? working out is therapy for many people to get everything out of their mind and focus on just working out, to “de-stress”
It might 'feel' like a de-stress but it actually activates your sympathetic nervous system which means it's stressing your body.
Yes Ben the only exercise that is non evasive that I’ve ever experienced in my life is restorative yoga. Restorative yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.
Hi Ben – My name is David, I live in West Hollywood, CA. I’m 43 and my sports background is in sweep rowing; I rowed in college and I currently row club. Last night I stayed up very late reading about reactive oxygen species, free radical damage and the use of synthetic antioxidants in sports performance. And I just read this older post of yours. I’m kind of freaked out. For about the last 10 months up until January 27 of this year (when my beautiful daughter, Rio was born!!!) I was training harder than usual for the Crash-B World Indoor Rowing Championships (while simultaneously trying to make lightweight). I’m use to training very hard, besides competitive rowing…played rugby, followed SealFit WOD’s, etc. But this last year, training was absolutely brutal, whether it was an aerobic or anaerobic day, I made it brutal. Anaerobic training days on the erg was always full-out, near death sprints (sets of 500m, 2000m, 5000m) which afterward almost always left me shivering, shaking and maybe even weeping a little. Aerobic training days weren’t as scary but, because of the much longer sessions at a slower, more deliberate, very aggressive power output, it was very punishing. Looking back, I don’t know which training days were worse, each were so intense, so physically exhausting and mentally and emotionally draining. Regardless, I loved the suffering…all I could think about during the day when I wasn’t training was the pain I was missing…this what I would think about before going to bed, but in a good way. My erg scores shined and I was getting closer to my 2000m goal of 6:20.
As far as nutrition, I’m about 90% paleo and fast intermittently. I supplement with a multi-vitamin, which I now question. After reading what I read last night I’m concerned about the amount of damage I’ve done to my body, not to mention that supplementing with synthetic anti-oxidents (such as multi-vitamins, as opposed to whole, natural foods) may have even made things worse. I don’t know, I’m shocked at my ignorance. I thought I was doing everything right, man. Man!
After two months off of training I’m easing back into it. I want to be careful going forward but am I suppose to now train like a pussy?? And is there a way to reverse any damage I’ve done?
If I sent you a workout log of what I’m planning could you take a look? Do I need to arrange a consulting session with you? By the way, I only train on the Concept2 (if I’m not on the water) and I prefer calisthenics over weight training.
Thanks for reading.
The Nervous Nellie.
Yes, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.
Okay, thanks – I’ll be in touch after this work week.
Ben – thanks for really good, balanced info. Sorry a few are so sad in their replies – they take what you say out of context, assume things about you they could not possibly know and make their own conclusions……and think they are wise and righteous in their responses. Especially the name callers.
Wow. I admire you, not only for posting what you believe is important, but for having the thick skin to not pay attention to people like this :)
Tell me something about the effects of brain due to daily workouts .i am 20 years old and i don’t take any kind of supplement cuz I believe,in,natural protein intake as compared to the supplements .in addition to that I am an engineering student and I would like to know if there is any ill effect of workouts on,my academic life.
Animesh, exercise is definitely good for your brain but it also depends on the type of exercise you perform. Generally speaking, harder aerobic training (like running on a treadmill) can cause enhanced brain functioning compared to easier aerobic training (like an easy walk). You can find more info here: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/e…
Now i am just looking for info, enable, ideas, etc.!.
I agree with you Ben, I used to do martial arts (tae-kwondo and muay thai) and gave me all that you describe:
-addiction(because I wanted to be the best)
-I became antisocial
-And I got plantar fasciitis…
So there you have, fortunately now I quit 2 1/2 years ago and I feel much better.
This is a very bad article. I printed this article out for my Critical Thinking class and in every single reason of yours we found, basically, lies. Your evidence is false and biased. For someone who is a fitness expert, posting an article like this seems ironic. Too much of anything is bad for you.
Why do you have to be so lazy and stop people from exercising? If you do exercising properly, most of these don’t happen! So stop making excuses about why YOU don’t want to exercise, and what happens when you exercise 24/7. I thought you were supposed to be an ironman, and a personal trainer, but now you badmouth exercise like it’s murder, and pick the worst parts of exercising, which usually don’t even happen.
Yeah… but did you read the last 3 paragraphs?
you sir are the biggest dumbass i have ever seen, your probably some fat piece of crap trying to make excuses for not staying healthy.
M锚me avant qu’ils ne deviennent un, votre enfant va savoir lequel est le plus frais dans sa foule, la PS3 ou la X-Box. N’essayez m锚me pas de raisonner avec lui une fois qu’il est r茅gl茅 sur un syst猫me de jeu. Type sous-jacent DiseaseThe de maladie cardiaque que vous avez influe 茅galement sur le taux de succ猫s de la cardioversion. Initialement, DC cardioversion r茅ussit 脿 environ 94 pour cent des patients.
thanks i guess you helped me but add more reasons why it is bad for you ok mister!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)
thanks you gave me some good information
I am a skinny fat ecto type and i developed gerd fatigue and brain fog from toooo much weight training.Now i barely can lift half of what i lifted 4 years ago and i fell fat bloated and fatigue most of the time.
my life became a ruin because of too much HARD weight lifting with No steroids.
i am trinf for the past 2 years to recover but is verry hard,my blood sugar is fcked up and my fatigue tiredness is at the roof..my gerd also is aking me a lot of problems with food especially proteins…
Hi Ben, regarding item 4 'Exercise Causes Inflammation'. How much damage does endurance training do to gut integrity due to physical jarring (such as in running) or due to metabolic processes that presumably vary according to intensity/duration/heat? I have been gluten-free since being diagnosed Celiac and don't want to undo my good work!
The main issue is not the jarring. The body holds up pretty well with that. The main issue is increased gut permeability in the heat causing exercise induced leaky gut. That's why I load with colostrum before hot races because it seals the tight junctions in the gut and reduces this inflammatory effect.Ben
im reading this thread and i honestly can not understand how uneducated you and your dumbass followers are
THIS IS BULL
Very useful come up! Exercise is very important for good fitness but I really don't know that exercise has some dark sides as well. So I didn't done any overdo with my body in the mean time learned about these disadvantages. I'll keep in my mind these ways and never going to follow such ways. Thanks.
Thanks very much for this information, much appreciated.
I will keep this in mind when replanning my exercise routine. :-)
Thank you for the reply. I will be starting some weight training too, just haven't scheduled it in yet. I am concerned about the ageing effects of exercise that you mentioned though in point 4. How intense would the cardio have to be to cause ageing effects on the skin?
Regarding exercise causing premature ageing, what exactly would be classified as "intense and high volume" exercise? Would the following exercise be too much?
Monday: 1 hour moderate speed bike ride
Tuesday: 1 hour moderate speed swim
Wednesday: 1 hour moderate speed bike ride (morning) and 1 hour badminton (evening)
Thursday: 1 hour moderate speed swim
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 45 minute spin class
Sunday: Rest day
I am someone who is just starting out on exercising and I do not know what is classed as intense exercise.
This isn't “too much exercise”, but you certainly aren't getting much bang for your exercise buck, Jenny. I'd be doing far more intervals and far less “steady state” cardio, and then include some weight training!
Thank you for the reply. I will be starting some weight training too, just haven't scheduled it in yet. I am concerned about the ageing effects of exercise that you mentioned though in point 4. How intense would the cardio have to be to cause ageing effects on the skin?
Sounds like you are a bit full of it. Having a healthy well balanced diet and being fit is amazing for you. An obese guy sitting on his couch and eating donuts and playing video games is a lot more likely to have diabetes than someone who exercises. Besides people who actually legitimately overtrain to the max, exercise has all the benefits in the world. Quit propagating peoples minds, I have become more fit this summer and made my diet healthier and my skin has cleared up, i have felt more energy, i am breathing better, my constipation problems i have had since 18 are finally getting better, my stomach is less irritated in general, my senses have improved, my motor skills have improved, my awareness of surroundings has improved, my strength has improved, my drive has improved and i have managed to stay out of depression and there are many more benefits ive gotten that i cant think of off the top of my head. There’s more than one way of doing something and everyone has different viewpoints, so shut your hole and stop telling us we are wrong because plenty of us could prove a bunch of your crap wrong.
haha none of this is due to actual exercise but in fact exercising the wrong way. really if you work something to much it might start to hurt? what a concept! the diabetes one, is that the exercise or the idiot stuffing their face afterwards thats causing the diabetes? the breaking up families reason was priceless too. thanks for a good laugh.
I read this article and couldn't help laughing. Thanks for posting your comment.
ok so obviously this article is geared towards, triathletes, marathon runners etc. but how can anyone in their right mind, whatever the context, honestly believe that exercise causes diabetes? It's literally the opposite of the truth. If you could present some actually data from peer reviewed research studies (not from your on book) saying that exercise causes diabetes then maybe ill believe you. Granted you're right that someone engaging in so much aerobic activity needs alot of carbs for fuel but this is stretching the truth if ive ever heard it. While discussing this article with my peers I couldnt even say the phrase "exercise can cause diabetes" without laughing. plus, doesn't basic bioenergetics proves that exercise of that duration would relay more on oxidative metabolism of fat than it would of carbs?
It's not the exercise per se Greg (although hypercortisolism and insulin resistance are linked). It is rather the DIET that many athletes and exercising individuals justify eating. I had a pro triathlete stay at my house once who sat around watching movies and eating sports gels on the couch. That's a recipe for late life Type II.
I’m an exercise science major and a lot of what your saying is only true if you are overtraining. Which can make you sick, but only a handful of people will ever be overtraining. As for exercise causing diabetes there can’t be a lot of evidence that supports that statement, since all the evidence is geared towards carbo loading which improves performance because all the carbs are burned not stored as fat. Also if someone is working out it’s ok to be eating more there are studies stating that if you eat constantly then your metabolism is always going which means your body won’t store the calories as fat. The joint statement makes sense but being overweight has the same negative effects on the joints. And one more thing being addicted to something like exercise is so much better than being addicted to drugs or alcohol, and some people need it as a release to a stressful day and it helps them think clearer after. Everything has negative effects but in this case the positives out weight the negatives.
dont forget that excercise is good for you and dont ever stop why not try swimming i love SWIMMING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From my recent studies it all depends on the person's body type and deeper nature. Some people are more prone to arrhythmia so are better with strength training, yoga and tai chi while others are more vulnerable to injury and obesity making long distance, slow endurance activities safer with more benefits.
There's no drama intended here but a reminder when 15-20 minutes is more than enough interval anaerobic/aerobic stuff for someone (i.e. Ecto/Meso) and 30-45 minutes max for an over-fat individual. As for a straight ectomorph I'm sure Ben could of aimed this article at them and wouldn't want them to sweat too much even after a few minutes of cardio.
Jerry makes the most sense on this one.
I wanted to expand on my original question in response to this article, in which I asked about the appropriate amount of exercise needed to prepare for a marathon. I appreciated your answer, in which you detailed that quality work should be maxed out before quantity. Thank you for this information. The reason I am expanding on my question is that I am now struggling with an injury and am wondering how I can manage my exercise time to maximize recovery, maintain fitness, and still potentially participate in my marathon (October 15).
Here is a short background. In January, I experienced a spasm in my left hamstring that significantly altered my stride. I took a month off of running, and ran minimally in February, March and April. I managed to run the Boston marathon, but at a far slower pace than normal. (I ran a 4-hour race compared to my PR of 3:12). Since Boston, I have tried to re-hab my injury and train for the Amica Marathon in Newport. I started physical therapy and ramped up my miles. My PT suspected an SI joint injury, but now thinks it originates in the lower back. I was doing quite well, and got up to about 80 miles a week. Then, after I returned from a vacation (July 7) I noticed that I was severely overpronating with my left foot, causing my left foot to drag so badly that I wore out the toe on my shoes. In three days, I completely wore out the tread. It felt like I was dragging my feet with every step. With each stride, it was like I was scraping the pavement with my foot. I wear stability shoes already (Saucony ProGrid Hurricane) and have never pronated to this extent. I feel no pain, but my stride is so awkward that I cannot run more than 10 minute miles. My PT is mystified and thinks I strained my back lifting weights. He suggested I back off running and lifting weights until we isolate the issue. I am obviously frustrated about the lost training and confused about the possible causes of this injury.
I am interested in any thoughts you have on my situation. How much exercise should I be doing while rehabbing? Do you agree that I should stop lifting weights? Which types of exercise (bike, elliptical) make the most sense? Is there anything I can do nutritionally to speed recovery?
Adriane, this is the type of question that would require personal consulting (i.e. a phone call). You can see your options at https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching
I won't waste space here with detailing why all appearances are that an email blacklist was in play and why that was a reasonable conclusionIt doesn't really matter. It's not the end of the world.
I will ask you this though, so that I can avoid this problem in the future. Many comments and replies with lots of filter fodder make it to your site, far more filter unfriendly posts than anything I would ever offer. But since we're on this page, let's consider Allison's post above. It included the words "sex", "love", and "hanging out"…all known filter red alerts of the first order…especially when combined in a single, short comment. Yet it made it through the same filter you say got me, and my post is clean of any common filter combinations. Can you take a look at mine and tell me what you think might have been the trouble? I'd like to be able to comment on your blog once in a while, but don't really want to risk wasting my time crafting a comment and running into this problem again. If I can't post, that's cool…I'll just stand by. I have a lot of respect for you and the information you put out (and I'm married to a physician!). I was pretty disappointed when it looked like I was blacklisted…and was reluctantly getting ready to send you to the guru-garbage heap. Glad we avoided that. : )
Nonetheless, I apologize for the wrong conclusion.
No clue man. It can be everything from the IP address you post from to words like "potentialities" which can sometime be fodder filter too…i wish i could be of more assistance on this, but I'm not a filter expert…
Jerry you are hilarious, next time try to keep your comment short it may help with the filter. You sounded like a cry-baby !
boo hoo hooo
Ben…my posts aren't coming through or you've got me blocked somehow. Did I make you mad when I disagreed with you a while back, or what? What's the deal? I'll use a different email address and see…
Yep, that was it. You blocked my email address! Why? I've only posted a couple of times on yous stuff…ALWAYS been on topic, NEVER rude, vulgar, or inappropriate. You've blacklisted me! You sure as heck don't mind collecting my money from all the purchases I've made from you…from info products to suppliments…using my usual email address. If you had a problem with a post somewhere along the way, it would have been nice to know your beef instead of just being blacklisted.
That's very disappointing.
Settle down champ. What on earth are you talking about?
I looked into your account Jerry. Your posts were being auto-blocked by our comment moderation filter, which filters several thousand comments per day. Next time, please be responsible, keep your head about you, just shoot me an e-mail and I'll take care of it.
The physchological and control issues are certainly relevant, depending on the individual. But the rest? When the studies that actually quantify a lower life expectancy, higher disease rate, higher incidence of actual heart problems, or other detriment for those of us who hammer appear, then we'll have something to talk about. Until then, it's hard to believe that the 60% of the population that is obese in America is going to fare better than us as we age. With all the benefits of being healthy, eating right, and staying fit, I'll take my chances. I won't be convinced that the odds of a longer, healthier life aren't far better for me than the guy sitting on the couch eating chips and watching reality TV every night.
As for the studies that allude to potentialities, doctors used to disfavor running too. In fact, it wasn't that many years ago when "they" simply said, "Don't run.". The science of the time held that it would destory the knees. That risk was greatly overexaggerated and has now been put to bed many times over. Today's science is tomorrow's wives' tale. And far too many of them are simply not stastically valid studies due to small sampling sizes or freakish conditions and controls.
Besides, everything kills us in one way or another. Let's face it, we're all dying. Plus, at least half of the maladies mentioned can be said for internet addiction, driving, pollution, having kids, and a thousand other activities in which we can engage.
Ben, If the premise of this article is correct, why do Tour De France riders live 17% longer than the general population (See the link below)? I don't dispute the specifics of the article, but in the context of a lifetime, 17% is nothing to sneeze at. If the choice is between being dead or live with additional inflammation or struggle with family life what choice would people here make? If it is true that extreme endurance exercise does add 17% to your life, then maybe we should be talking about how best to mitigate the downside of extreme endurance exercise for those who choose to live longer.
I've seen this many times. Problem is that a cyclist in the 40's and 50's trained with more real food, less stress and less volume than today's average age grouper Ironman triathlete.
If I follow what you're saying, if I practice good nutrition, manage stress levels etc, at least to the level people tended to do in the 40's and 50's then extreme endurance might not be bad if I follow you. It's the combination of all the negative factors we experience in our leves today that's the problem.
Great article Ben, and I'm glad you're feeling better. LSD (bad) vs sprint intervals (good)… Where do my workouts fit in? I live in the Pacific Coast Range, so everywhere I go, I'm doing hills. My runs are around 5 miles and my bike rides are around 25, but it's all hill work. What do you think? Good or bad?
totally depends man. I have no clue how often you're doing that stuff, what your exercise background is, etc.
I have been training for and competing in about 4 events, typically 10ks and sprint triathlons each year since 2003. A typical week for me : I run 5 miles in the hills twice a week, either in mile intervals or straight, and ride between 20 and 40 miles twice each week with an altitude gain of about 2000 feet. Twice per week I either swim or do strength and core workouts. Again, thanks for any advice you can give specifically dealing with intense uphill running and riding intervals in a workout.
what does “a skinny fat body look” mean??
Great info.. I’m glad you are recovering quickly.
anything that’s not muscly.
think of skinny people with stuff all muscle. like young people who aren’t obese but don’t exercise often. I’m not saying that you need to exercise heaps to avoid this look, I just mean, a good example of skinny-fat bodies are ones who aren’t overly huge, but are quite sedentary. think video game nerds.
that said, stick cricket is a sport, right? so does video games really count as sedentary behaviour? ;)
sorry, please ignore that, that was meant for the comment below, posted it in the wrong spot
thank you for this article. I have sometimes shown characteristics like you described in point 10. I would miss family events, hanging out with friends and even sex just to exercise! Its ridiculous! Thanks for reminding me that I shouldn't become the "mouse on the wheel." Although I love exercise I know I need to be a bit more relaxed with skipping a day and being okay with that. I will definitely be bookmarking this article and even putting the "fix" for point 10 on my computer desktop :) Thanks again!
Great read Ben! I actually suffer from numbers 10 & 8. Also very interesting to learn about the type 2 diabetes in number 6. I am guilty of overeating sugary snacks after a workout thinking that it’s ok since I just burned millions of calories. Appreciate your commitment to healthy living and helping others!
Perfect timing – the dose of reality I need. I will print this article and staple it to the front of my workout journal!
Depends how often that "longer run" or 60 mile bike is. If it's once a week, and you're not pushing through pain or injuries, and it's truly recovery (i.e. "Zone 2), you're probably fine.
For me it would be just once a week. And my #1 rule with exercising is that if it hurts, STOP. My philosophy is that i am suppose to be getting stronger and healthier from training, not hurting any part of my body.
Great post. People need to consider a more balanced approach to exercise. More imporant are you feeling better?
Yes, my arm hasn't fallen off yet, so I'm happy.
Thanks Ben. i needed this. I'm one who is prone to exercise-addiction and have been really concerned withe being of my exercise schedule he past 3 weeks with 5 days left in my trip. (Despite the fact that I've gone on fased cardio sessions in the morning about 5 times each week and have weight trained with the faciliies available to me two times a week). in light of this article I think I'm gonna scale back fasted runs and maybe do a little body weight stuff and just concenrated on eating clean and walking around a lot over the next few days before I fly back.
As a naturally apple-shaped person I have justified long gym sessions (3+ hours) and long cardio as what I needed to do to maintain fitness. But I digress,
(P.S. I'm curious as to how quickly the body becomes efficient with fasted cardio… Or is the goal just to get a burn with depleted glycogen regardless?)
the goal of fasted cardio isn't to burn calories or build muscle, so efficiency is a moot point. Just move for 20-60 minutes for that fasted session and you'll be fine. For example, sometimes a fasted "exercise session" for me is cleaning the garage before breakfast.
As a marathoner, I find this article very interesting. Thank you for this information. Given that training for marathons requires many hours of aerobic training (and weight training to correct imbalances), what are your recommendations in terms of time spent exercising?
Limit yourself to one long run a week, and make sure the quality is maxed out. For example, don't do a 3 hour long run, but instead do, a 4x5K where each 5K is HARD and you have a 5 minute walk between each. Everything else during the week should be short fast intervals, and amateur marathoners should be able to go 3 to 3:30 with around 25-30 miles a week.
Hi Ben, thanks for sharing. I am reading a book "Body by Science" which says all of this and that the solution is NO CARDIO and to do only 20 or 30 MINUTES one time a week of strength training (slow burn method) OR high intensity interval training. The book cites research that says the BENEFITS are the same as 6 hours a week, with much less time and NO RISK of overtraining harm, aches and pains from running, etc.
As a triathelete, I am assuming you disagree. IF it is true that there are scientific studies indicating that 30 minutes once a week is all you need for cardio health and strength, WHY ARE PEOPLE WASTING THEIR TIME running marathons, 10ks at steady pace, adn going to the gym 5-6 times a week? I would love for you to address this in one of your pcasts.
Hi Jeff – there is a big difference between " cardio health and strength ", and actual performance, or significant body changes. For example, a morbidly obese person would probably take 5-6 years to lose significant weight with 30 minutes. Also, it would be impossible to go achieve a goal like an Ironman triathlon or bodybuilding competition with that level of exercise, much less make the varsity basketball team or hit a home run.
Hey Ben- I have also just completed the book Body By Science and even went to a local training facility here in Oklahoma City, Science Fit (sciencefit.net). The workout was a 30 minute routine with 5 major lifts described in the book, where you are pushed beyond your mental end point and to your physiological end point. It is described in more detail in the book, and me reading it as a medical student would recommend the read to you as it starts out with tons of biochemistry. I am training for my 1st Ironman distance tri and was wondering your take on if this 30 minute intense lifting session once a week is beneficial for my training. The doctor who runs the facility only wants people doing the sessions and nothing else so just seeing if I am overdoing it.
A) you will eventually adapt to that routine no matter how hard it is; B) it doesn't escape the problem of repeatedly stressing the joints with the same movement patterns (i.e. vs. doing way more exercises in a variety of movement patterns); C) recovery implications are huge for something like that, and if you're following it up with Ironman style training, it might be a bit much. Why punish your body like that? It will eventually break.