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Should You Exercise Less?

Exercising with dumbells at gymDoing tons of cardio and STILL can’t get those last 5 or 10 pounds off your frame?

Exercise is a great component of a healthy lifestyle and the benefits are well established but “chronic cardio” or too many high-intensity days for that matter can push the body’s stress response too far, leading to a cascade of biochemical responses that can cause serious long term damage to our body’s both short and long term.

Don’t get me wrong…

Short, intense workout are definitely great for fat loss, aerobic capacity and reducing cardiovascular risk, but excessive intense workouts are not a good thing especially for people who are already going through such stressors as adrenal fatigue, auto immune disease, or even gut issues.

Stress (as well as generalized high stress) caused by intense, excessive exercise can negatively affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, possibly causing conditions such as hypothyroidism.  Hypothyroidism can cause many symptoms.  Depression, weight-gain and digestive dysfunction are a few of them.

Extreme exercise also causes a rise in cortisol, the powerful hormone released under stress.  Chronically high levels of cortisol can increase your risk for a variety of health issues, such as sleep disturbances, digestive issues, depression, weight gain, and memory impairment. Excess cortisol also encourages fat gain, particularly around your belly.

Should You Stop Training?  No Way – Just Be Careful to Avoid Overtraining.  Here’s How…

–  Reduce your frequency.  It’s not the hard training.  It’s the hard training, too often.  In general, limit high intensity, high stress workouts to a couple of times a week.  Especially if you are dealing with some kind of chronic condition like an auto-immune or digestive issue.  It’s all about compounding and that cannot make you healthier.

–  Rest enough.  That means enough recovery from workouts and enough sleep.  Make sure you are getting adequate sleep especially on hard training days.  If you’re experiencing hard to sleep nights, be sure to consider the intensity of your training schedule and taper down if needed.

–  Do yoga.  Seriously, it’s the best thing for you!  You do the stuff that improve lean muscle mass and fat loss.  What about adding balance to your routine that can help modulate your cortisol level.  Regular yoga practice is shown to reduce cortisol levels which can help you reach your fitness and health goals.  Not to mention a little more length your muscles and detox for your organs.

–  Don’t cut carbs TOO low. Carb reduction is a great way to decrease body fat, but a combo of over-training and low-carbing can really raise your cortisol and impact your immune system.  According to Paul Jaminet, author of , “The Perfect Health Diet”, very low carb diets can actually suppress thyroid function.  Not good if your already have a thyroid condition.

High intensity can be great to improve your body composition but the main message here is to really listen to your body.  Are you having any of the above signs of overtraining?

I’d really love to hear your own personal story of what you’ve done to balance your lifestyle and training intensity?  Maybe you can help some of us!

Cat Dillon

This blog is my journal, where I share everything wellness. From tips on healthy lifestyle to creating as much deliciousness in your life as possible.

Cat Dillon is the Cat in Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.

Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness is a unique combo of nutrition, fitness and cooking coaching all in one pretty package. Read more about Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.

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