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Quick Dose: Can I Exercise Too Much?

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Exercise can be addictive. The truth is, it’s possible to exercise too often – or too intensely, which can lead to chronic injuries, electrolyte imbalances, exhaustion, unhealthy heart rates, depression and even eating disorders.

You may need to dial back your exercise routine if you notice the following signs: 

• You’re sore for days at a time (some delayed onset muscle soreness is normal, but it shouldn’t be chronic) • Exercise leaves you exhausted, instead of energized
• Your legs are “heavy”
• You’re not able to fight off colds and other infections
• You have trouble sleeping
• You’re short-tempered

Don’t forget, the key to optimal fitness is recovery time. As you increase the intensity of your workouts, be sure to give your body enough time to fully recuperate in between sessions. Reduce your high-intensity days to two or three times a week, and alternate with low-impact aerobic workouts, stretching and rest. If you aren’t achieving the results you want, consider talking to a sports medicine specialist.

Steven E. Mayer, MD, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist,
Northwestern Medicine Orthopaedics 

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