Is over-exercising bad for us?

In a nutshell – yes!

Over-exercising or overtraining is when we exceed our body’s ability to recover from strenuous activity.

If your aim is to improve performance, strength or speed the best way is to follow a regular training programme and then gradually overload your body by increasing the distance or speed you are running, by increasing the number of reps you do or by lifting heavier weights.  But be careful, as overtraining can result if you fail to plan in adequate recovery time thereby allowing your body to rest and repair.

Examples of overtraining are:

  • undertaking rigorous gym sessions 2 days in a row
  • a novice runner deciding to complete two half marathons in two days

Without rest, these examples of overtraining could lead to injuries and if this is repeated over time could even limit progress and result in losing current fitness levels.

How do we know if we are overtraining?

If our resting heart rate increases by 10-15 beats per minute when it should be going down then it may be a sign of overtraining.  (A decrease in resting heart rate is an indication of improved cardiovascular fitness).  Fitness trackers are a useful tool in monitoring our resting heart rate throughout the day.

Sleeping problems may occur.  This is due to our hormones and central nervous system being out of balance.

Muscles feel sore for more than three days.  It is natural for muscles to feel sore after a workout but if it lasts for more than three days then our body may be showing signs that it is unable to recover as it normally should.  A further sign of overtraining is if we feel aches in muscles we haven’t even trained.

A decline in performance – It is natural to have off days but consistent poor performance may be a sign of overtraining.

Catching illnesses – if our bodies are being strained by overtraining then we are more prone to catching illnesses such as the flu.

Low mood – our nervous system is affected when we put too much stress on our bodies.

How to minimise overtraining 

First and foremost rest!  Taking some time off training with reduce and eliminate the symptoms of overtraining.

Look at your sleeping habits.  Persistent lack of sleep has been linked to poor training quality, increased chance of injury and health risks such as diabetes and high blood pressure.  So, if you feel like you’re not getting enough good quality sleep at night then try and address it.  You can find tips on how to sleep better here.

Try to have at least one or two days a week when you can switch off and do other activities you enjoy.  Some great ways to get some movement into your day without doing too much is to walk, cycle, swim or even dance – these are all great stress busters too!

Good hydration and nutrition can reduce the symptoms of overtraining.  Eating a well-balanced diet can help to repair muscles and replace glycogen stores and keeping hydrated throughout the day will help with fatigue and performance too.  During intense training periods we should be eating foods such as wholegrains, brown rice and pasta and proteins such as chicken and fish.

How to prevent overtraining

Planning is key as it’s easy to lose track of how intense your sessions are if you don’t get organised.  So schedule in rest days or very low intensity days which will help your body to recover.  It is also a good idea to log how intensely you train or how fast your run was on a particular day, that way if you’ll have an explanation if you’re tired or sore the following day.

You should always be prepared to adapt.  If you are having a stressful week and you undertake an intense training session then you may end up feeling physically and mentally exhausted.  So shortening your training session or lifting lighter weights or fewer reps for a couple of days will help get you back on track.

In summary, sleeping well, scheduling in at least one or two low intensity sessions per week, eating a balanced diet and listening to your body should help you exercise safely and achieve lasting benefits.  Above all learn to be kind to yourself!

Read more on which foods to eat during exercise.

All content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated at all as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Silversurfers will not be responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content on and we are also not liable for the content of any external websites or links from or to Silversurfers to any other websites. Please always consult your own doctor if you’re in any way concerned about any aspect of your health.

Have you got a health question?

We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a question of your own, their, "Ask the Expert" service allows you to ask the team of friendly, experienced nurses, pharmacists and midwives about any health topic and they'll get back to you with an answer as soon as they’re able.* So if you have something that’s been bothering you, whether it concerns you or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Click below to submit your query online.


* Nurses are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Midwives and pharmacists are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 4pm; and Sunday, 8am to 12pm.
Actual response time will depend on the nature of your enquiry and availability of appropriately qualified experts but the team will always aim to get back to you within 24 hours.
Please note that our Expert Help services are there to offer health information and support. They do not diagnose or prescribe, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice given in the context of an individual consultation.


The following two tabs change content below.

AXA PPP healthcare

The more you know about your body and how you can look after it, the healthier you are – and the stronger and bolder you become. That’s why we never stop looking for ways to support your health. We want to give you the tools and knowledge you need to take care of yourself – so you’re ready to face whatever the world brings.

Latest posts by AXA PPP healthcare (see all)

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!