Are you a great fan of cardio exercises? Do you do cardio all the days of the week? Do you over train thinking that it will bring your results? Do you do cardio all the days of the week? Do you over train thinking that it will bring your results?
If you answer to the last of those questions is ‘Yes’, then you really need to rethink your fitness strategy. Because, far from making you healthier and fitter, excessive cardio can have severe adverse effects on your body. In the worst case scenario, it can even lead to your death!
When you train yourself too much without resting or allowing your body to recover, you are not training but only straining your body. Instead of becoming fitter, you are making yourself weaker.
What happens when you overdo cardio?
The body can manage a level of stress which is good for the growth and repair of the body. When the stress reaches a certain point, it turns out to be a breaking point where the results start reversing. Beyond a point, the stress on the heart is so much that it stops working. Here are some harmful effects of excessive cardio exercises:
- Your tissues reach a state of catabolism, leading to break down.
- It will lead to a spike in cortisol levels that are responsible for a state of catabolism, mimicking a chronic disease.
- Increases the risk of injuries.
- Increases tissue tear and low repair.
- Weakens the immune system.
- Leads to insomnia.
All the aforementioned effects are exacerbated when nutrition and sleep are grossly inadequate.
The dangers of overdoing cardio are described in greater detail below:
It damages your heart
There is an optimum level at which the benefits of cardio are best appreciated. But after that, it is very dangerous. If you understand this physiology, you will be able to understand how this works. Let us consider long distance marathon runners. Research for years showed that excessive cardio leads to the following damaging effects on the heart:-
- The risk of cardiac arrest increases seven fold.
- Causes long standing inflammation in the heart.
- Causes cardiac scarring.
- Hypertrophy of heart walls.
- Reduced function of the right ventricles.
Here is the reason why marathoners in particular face these problems:-
- Most marathoners want quick results. As a result, they don’t work slowly for a decade or two to get to their current level of fitness, rather they take shortcuts in order to become fit quickly.
- They also don’t give time for the heart and other organs to recover and repair.
- They follow advice from non-authentic sources.
This is what marathoners can do to avoid the aforementioned problems:-
- Plan adequately so that they challenge their bodies, yet stay within limits.
- Make sure that they dedicate enough time for rest and repair.
- Proper nutrition is very important and should form the core of their fitness regime.
Another problem of excessive cardio training is the loss of water and electrolytes. Excessive water loss leads to dehydration; and in the long run, you might lose those important electrolytes from the body. Your heart cells operate under the sodium and potassium pump, and when these electrolytes are lost from the body, it leads to cardiac failure.
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Excessive cardio leads to loss of protein from the muscles. This can be attributed to two things, Excessive damage leading to muscle loss & increase in cortisol levels that is catabolic. The only solution for this is to make sure that you give adequate periods of rest for repair and recovery, in addition to nutrition. When you fail to do this, in the long run, you will lose more protein than you gain.
Risk of injury
When your body reaches a state of catabolism, it weakens your ligaments and other supportive structures. This means that you become more prone to injuries. Even the slightest trauma will lead to serious injury. You must have seen seasoned marathoners spending a good amount of time in hospitals taking care of trivial injuries.
Hampers the immune system
As mentioned earlier, long standing cardio exercises lead to a negative feedback being sent to the immune system, which reacts by downgrading the response to inflammation. This, coupled with injuries, makes it take longer for a sportsman to recover.
What is the solution for all this?
There is an optimum range in which an exercise gives the best results. This optimum range balances between workout, sleep, rest, recovery, and nutrition. You have to experiment a little to find this range. An expert can help you with this. Opt for different types of exercises, instead of only focusing on cardio.
It is up to you to track your progress, and regularly make adjustments and improvements, to get the best results. Remember that Rome was not built in a day. It takes time to build something worthy. If you want to build a worthy body, the price you have to pay is patience.