Exercise is good for us, and we should all aim to do at least 30 minutes, five days a week. Overdoing it isn't usually a worry as many of us find it easier to put off that trip to the gym.
However, short periods of intense exercising after months of doing nothing can cause injuries. It can also be de-motivating if you can't keep up with unrealistic targets, such as increasing your running distance too quickly, or trying to lose weight too fast . Also, pushing yourself too hard can mean a long recovery time which could make you wary of trying again.
There are three different intensities of exercise; light, moderate, and vigorous. It's important to remember when you're beginning an exercise program, that you should eventually be aiming to significantly increase your
heart, and breathing rates, through vigorous exercise, in order to gain the full range of benefits of regular activity.
However, if you haven't exercised in the past (or for some time), before starting an exercise program, you should visit your doctor for a physical check up. You should also build up gradually, and be aware that everyone is different, and what might be easy, or moderate exercise for one person, may be vigorous for another.
To avoid sports injuries, such as pulled muscles, and stress fractures, make sure that you warm up before you begin, and pace yourself if you're starting a new exercise program. It's also important to make sure any sports injuries heal fully before restarting your exercise program.
Check that you're using any equipment properly, and replace your running shoes regularly (every 500 miles or so) to ensure that they absorb the impact of your foot hitting the ground, and support your feet correctly. Visit a specialist running shop (rather than a general sports shop) if you don't know what type of running shoe is suitable for your running style.
Exercise can help you to lose weight and stay in shape because it uses up a lot of calories. However, you also need to eat a healthy diet so that your body gets the energy it needs. Exercise can make bones stronger, but they also need nutrients, and the right amount of hormone levels. Over-exercising and over-dieting are linked to eating disorders and osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Avoid exercising if you're ill
Over-exercising can weaken the
immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. This is because non-stop exercise means the body is using up all its energy to work out, leaving little power to fight off colds and flu. Try to avoid exercising when you're ill because the strain it puts on your
immune system could end up making something mild, like a cough, or cold, a lot worse.
Always stop exercising if you feel
pain as it's often a sign that something's wrong, and learn to recognize the signs of over-exercise, such as injury, exhaustion and not being able to perform as well.