Ask an Expert: Can I Exercise Too Much?

Some believe that slaving away at the gym for hours may not actually be doing wonders for your body. The Hormone Diet author Dr. Natasha Turner warns there is a critical point at which the benefits of exercise are outweighed by the risk factors.

Find out how long you should spend on your workout.

Dr. Turner: Do you exercise too much? This is the number one reason why I put a personal training studio in my office because I consistently see patients who exercise incorrectly, meaning that they go too hard and too long at the wrong type of exercise. I consistently see women doing too much cardiovascular exercise, like running on the treadmill five days a week for
more then 35 minutes to an hour. I really don’t think it’s necessary. Unless you’re an athlete training for a specific event, that’s not going to give you the most bang for the buck when you are thinking about exercising to maintain hormonal balance.

The key is to actually do less cardio and to do more strength. You do the strength training in a way that you work your heart at the same time. So it’s circuit training; it’s really short and it’s really high intensity and it gives you the most amazing bang for your buck as far as boosting growth hormone and lowering stress hormone.

The problem is that after 40 minutes of exercise, unless you are a very conditioned athlete; your stress hormones will start to rise. Stress hormones actually tear down your muscle fibre. Cortisol (the long-term stress hormone that elevates when you exercise too long) actually starts to eat up your muscle fibre that you’re working so hard to build. If you go shorter, you’ll burn off that extra cortisol that you may have gone into the workout with because of your stressful day, and then by the 30-35 minute mark you’ve burned it off, but you haven’t actually stimulated the release of more. I really encourage people to change their philosophy that more exercise isn’t always better. You don’t need an hour a day – that’s archaic!