Gym membership sign-ups are likely to spike over the next few weeks, but over-exercising in order to shed the excess Christmas pounds could be dangerous.
Working out is an important part of a healthy lifestyle – including boosting cardiovascular health and warding off dementia – and the NHS recommend we do at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week.
It is also great for weight loss, and research has shown that working out can help you slim down in addition to eating a healthy diet.
However, too much exercise can take its toll on our bodies.
Mandie Nugent, a personal trainer and ambassador for sports nutrition brand USN warned: “We all know the saying ‘too much of anything can be bad for you’. That includes exercise.
“When weight loss is your ultimate goal it’s amazing to see the pounds fall off, but sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop, and over-training can be dangerous to our health and our emotional stability.
“The body is designed to do some pretty amazing things, but there are some dangers you may encounter if you’re over-doing your workouts.”
One of these is burnout, defined as severe physical exhaustion.
“Take a car for example. If you continuously use it and leave it running, eventually it will run out of fuel. Your body works in the same way,” explained Nugent.
“Over training can cause physical fatigue which prohibits you from functioning at your normal rate.
“It’s the feeling of the 3pm lull every minute of the day, hitting a brick wall or not wanting to get out of bed.”
Your body needs ‘rest’ days to recuperate, and hitting the gym every day of the week will not allow it to do so.
But how do you know if you’re suffering from burnout from exercise?
“If you’re feeling tired, low in energy or your immune system has taken a beating then stop what you’re doing,” advised Nugent.
Over-training can also place you at risk of injury, and research by BUPA earlier this year indicated a link between a rise in hip replacements, and other operations, and the popularity of high-intensity workouts.
“Repetitive strains on joints and muscles is the most common cause for injury,” said Nugent.
“Listen to the niggles of pain and don’t simply plough through your workout.
“Tennis elbow, runner’s knee and Achilles tendinitis are the three main culprits that tend to hit us without warning
“A few days absent from the gym could prevent a few weeks or months off from injury.”
What’s more, not over-doing exercise could help you see results.
“If your body is no longer responding to hour-long sessions anymore, it could be because you’ve hit a plateau,” warned Nugent.
“Weight training is designed to tear the muscles and allow them to build and repair bigger and stronger.
“To build and repair they need sufficient time to recover which, because of overtraining, you’re not allowing your body to do.
“It all circles back on itself, the key is to rest. Know when you need it, and know when to take it.”