Is There Such a Thing As Too Much Exercise?

This is one of those posts that I hesitated to write, because I don’t want to step on any toes.

But step by step, I’m going forward. And the reason I wanted to write this post, was to get your opinions and thoughts on exercise. Not if you think it’s a good thing, because probably most of us are in agreement on that fact. My question is: Can people sustain the level of exercise they are doing to lose weight?

Here’s an example: I read at least 10 blogs recently, where the men and women were super motivated to lose weight. Good for them!!!! But, in reading through their blogs, I was astonished at how much exercise they were doing. I’m not talking about just taking a long walk every day, or spending an hour in the gym a few days a week. I’m talking hard-core, training for the Olympics type of exercise. Doing two workouts a day, two hours at the gym, and then walking for an hour later. Riding bikes for hours at a time, then working at the gym. And these aren’t people who are training for a triathlon or anything. They are just working their behinds off to lose weight.

I admire that in a lot of ways. But it scares me for them. Unless you are training for a specific event, then can you really sustain that type of intense exercise forever? Or do you need to? Here’s my thoughts, and I’d love to hear yours. Exercising that much burns a lot of calories, and most of the people I saw, were losing weight, but not rapidly. Which makes me think they are eating to compensate for the calories burned. Understandable, and good in some ways. But are they eating so much, that when they reach their goal weight, and cut back on that crazy amount of exercise, will their eating habits be able to maintain their weight, or will they start to regain?

Do you see what I’m saying? Exercise is great, but the point of weight loss for me wasn’t just about losing weight, but changing my lifestyle from an unhealthy, sedentary life, to an active life that was both realistic and sustainable. So for me, that included exercise six days a week, but generally for 45 minutes at the most. I strength train a couple times a week (most weeks), and am working to increase that a little bit.

How much exercise is too much? Or is there such a thing?  For athletes this answer will be different. But for your average person, how much can you keep up? Sure, you may be able to spend hours and hours a week at the gym while you are super focused on your weight, but can you do that much exercise to maintain your weight loss? Or do you want to?

This may vary by person. But I wonder, if that person wasn’t an athlete to begin with, do they really want to spend that much time just to maintain a loss?

I’m not sure about this one. I just know, that when I read these people’s stories, and see the amount of time they are spending exercising, I worry for them. I worry about sustainability.

What do you think? What are your goals once you get to where you want to be? Or if you are already there – what does your exercise routine look like?  Diane

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  1. Too much exercise? Hmmm, I guess it will vary from person to person.

    I’m just an average Joe – not and never was and never will be an athlete, but exercise very definitely helped me first lose and now maintain somewhere close to a 100lb weight loss.

    Having said that, most of the exercise came from daily walking (which I’ll carry on with as I love it), some has comprised c. half hour spells of daily rowing and abs stuff first thing in the morning (which, again, I will continue as it is sustainable). Only some of my exercise plan came from sessions at the gym. The latter was three times a week for a couple of hours a time at my most diligent (when losing weight was my big driver), but is much more erratic these days when maintaining is where I’m at.

    I can’t maintain those weekly hours at the gym even when I would like to – other life commitments and commuting sort of gets in the way, unfortunately. But there again, I view the sessions there as a ‘would enjoy/pleasure’ not an ‘essential’ now I’m round about at target weight so maybe exercise per se is not as important to me as it is to others. Fit = a great big yes, super-fit = not really for me. So for me, the exercise levels I’d like to do (in my ideal world) are not sustainable, but also not truly necessary to keep me where I want to be.

    I think heavy exercisers might, as you suggest, just exercise as much as they are to compensate for higher than strictly necessary calorie intake. However, I guess that all comes down to individual choice. Each to his or her own.

    To me, small portions of sensible food and moderate exercise make a lifetime’s sense to keep the weight in check. I am definitely in this for the long-term. This was always to be a change for life, in all senses. I am absolutely in agreement that, for me, “changing my lifestyle from an unhealthy, sedentary life, to an active life that was both realistic and sustainable” (as you did) is what I wanted to happen.
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  2. Whenever I read a blog like that, I wonder what else these people are doing with their time. I have got a really regular 7h/day office job, a small chaotic household (two “adults”, two cats) and way too many obsessions. I have to work really hard to squeeze in even one hour of exercise, and my required minimum is 30min/day. All the rest of the day is spent working (writing, translating, organizing), doing chores and cooking/baking (which, technically, belongs with the chores, but I love it too much for that). I get up at 5:00 and usually collapse on the sofa at 22:00, and there is no break inbetween. Even if I wanted, I could not add more workouts. And, frankly, I love the things I do way too much to replace them with exercise – the only exercise I really love is running, and I get to do that 3-6 times per week. ^^
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  3. I agree with you Diane that people who are not training for an event or there just regular people don’t need to exercise for more than a hour a day, 5 to 6 days a week depending on your goals.
    I had cut my exercise time down to 35 minutes 5 days a week and found my new weight creeping back up slowly so now I am back to exercising 50 minutes 5 days a week to maintain my weight where I want it to be.

  4. I quite agree with you–I don’t think that level is sustainable, and I do think that it can interfere with learning how to balance caloric intake and output in a way that makes sense over the long term. I’m in the final stages of my weight loss (6 pounds left, nearly 60 gone) and I exercise frequently, but not excessively. I don’t drive and live in the city, so I walk everywhere, and I run 3x per week and also do some yoga. I have a busy but balanced life, and I also know that exercising doesn’t compensate for whatever I’ve eaten–I have to eat well to lose. It works for me.

  5. I guess I kind of think, to each their own..but for me that would never work. I do started just walking an hour a day and it was mostly to relieve stress and unwind than burn calories. I fell in love with activity but I know my body’s limits and also give it plenty of rest. I know that for me weight loss is mostly about what I’m eating and now how much I’m exercising, so that’s what would concern me about those people. I think shows like the Biggest Loser has made it okay to exercise for hours and hours a day and that’s just not of the many reasons I hate that show and most weight loss shows.
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    • Jodi, I agree with you on the Biggest Loser thing. They hardly ever talk about nutrition unless its promoting a brand. I know its a show to make money but it could be a lot more helpful for the average person if they gave screen time to a nutritionist or something too.
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  6. One telling stat from the National Weight Control Registry, a list of people who have lost and maintained at least a 50 pounds loss for no less than 5 years, is that they exercise MODERATELY, 5/6x weekly for 30-60 minutes. (Don’t quote me on the exact figures, but it’s close). I totally agree with your theory that one can exercise too much. It’s just like the food plan one chooses. If it isn’t sustainable FOREVER, it will not work. And as someone else mentioned, physical fitness is only one part of a “healthy” lifestyle. If one is exercising 3-4 hours a day, some other component is being tossed aside. And that’s not a good overall balance.

    My other issue with exercise strategies is it needs to have a secondary benefit i.e. mental or social. If I am hiking/biking with someone whose only motivation is how fast, how many miles, how many calories burned, etc., it loses its joy for me. It may take me longer, but I’ll have covered the exact distance, burned the same number of calories and experienced the same health benefits, but seen every flower along the way and perhaps, deepened a friendship or experienced the emotional charge of simply being in nature. It’s a win-win!!!
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  7. I made the mistake of over-exercising when I first started trying to lose weight. I would exercise for 45 minutes everyday. I found that the more I worked out, the slower I lost weight. I’m not sure if it was because I was gaining muscle or overeating to compensate or something else. What I did notice was that cutting my workouts to 30 minutes, 4 times a week, caused me to lose weight faster.
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  8. I’m actually writing about this and hope to post a new essay on the topic this week. I hear people frequently refer to their exercise as a, “healthy addiction.” There’s no such thing as a healthy addiction. With regard to sustainability, I rarely see anyone who takes to excessive exercise as a weight loss mechanism, sustain it in the long-term.

    But the real disconnect, in my opinion, is that a person who exercises too much, has not asked his or her self the right questions prior to starting the program. They jump in with the ignorant belief that the more they exercise, the sooner the weight will come off. It’s a monkey see, monkey do mentality, spawned by Insanity, PX90, 30 Day Shred etc.

    Breaks my heart…

  9. Well, I am one that exercises A LOT but not to the extent of some of what you wrote. I have been doing this for a lot of years. I think as always, a person has to find something they can sustain long term.. although we all have options to change along the way & I have done different things.

    So many write that a person can stay fit a 30 minutes of exercise doing HIIT or intervals & things like this. I do HIIT, intervals & the like & it does not work for me.. we all have different bodies so we just have to find what works AND YES food is a big part of this! :-) I could do less & eat 1200 calories a day but I don’t want to eat that few calories – just me…
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  10. Before I hurt my calf I was typically doing 2 – 3 hours of cardio a day. Let me clarify that this was “light” cardio – elliptical for 90 minutes and then later in the day I did slow treadmill walking. Nothing like training for an event. But I didn’t have a job and had no kids at home to take my time and when I was exercising I wasn’t snacking. (I was watching TV!) Then I hurt my calf. Probably from working out too much. So, yes, I would say that there is such a thing as too much exercise.
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  11. I understand why you were cautious in writing this, but wanted to assure you that you did a very good job.

    What you are talking about is the Biggest Loser syndrome. And it does get the weight off, but it is not conducive to maintenance in my opinion.

    I started out with a lot of hours of ‘exercise’ at the beginning of my weight loss. But it was not efficient exercise. It was mostly learning where my body parts were and how to use them. As my skill level got better and my time was more efficient, I reduced the number of hours.

    I am not sure if you saw my note. After years of an open blog both in weight loss and many years of maintenance, I am going private at the end of this week.

  12. Yes, of course there is! In terms of the person who is trying to lose weight, what I have seen, and studies support, is that too much exercise with a restricted diet will drive most people to eat too much and cancel out the work. I suggest a small calorie deficit every day as this seems top allow more progress with weight loss without driving the appetite into high gear.

    On the other extreme, I have seen people damage their bodies with too much cardio and have injuries from excessive weight lifting. It seems it’s all about balance.

  13. This is exactly why I did not do that massive amount of exercise when I started with the weight loss journey. Doing that amount of training, can result in one getting burned out, that you don’t want to continue with training (or eating correctly) and then stop altogether, resulting in no or little loss.
    I exercise max 1 hour and 10 minutes per day and never twice a day. Besides, with kids I don’t have more time that this.

  14. So good to hear you voice this. Too many gung ho when they start, just to get discouraged and quit. I too walked way too many daily miles but would eat up the difference in calories becuse it made me so hungry. Now I power walk for 30 minutes and my hunger does not get out of control. Yep, sustainability is the word.
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  15. I think moderate exercise 5 to 6 times a week is better for me. I have known people who have exercised hours a day and have lost weight. But when theyhave had to cut back or quit for one reason or another, they regained weight. I had a serious injury last year due to a fall, and for 9 months I couldn’t exercise at all. I was losing weight prior to the injury, but during recovery time, I gained about a half a pound a month. Although I was never a heavy exerciser, it was evidentally enough to help with weight loss. My point is this: don’t put all your eggs (or weight loss) in one basket. It all works together, and diet is important too.

    I have now adjusted my diet to fewer calories, because I still can’t exercise fully. This has shown me that what we think is the norm can change in an instant. If weight loss is based primarily on exercising hours every day, there could come a day of disappointment, because situations can change. It’s hard to sustain over time.

    Also, I always had an uneasy feeling when a weight loser or a maintenance blogger would write of the grueling exercise program they put themselves through on a regular basis, in spite of bad knees, hips, backs. Some have had to have surgeries to repair damage. I don’t thiink it’s worth iit for the minimal increase it provides in pounds lost. …better to exercise moderately with fitness and flexibility in mind, rather than faster weight loss.
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  16. When ever I tried to lose weight before my current success (85 lbs lost and maintained for 2.5 yrs), I would workout hard at least 1 hour a day 5-6 days a week. In a way, it was easier as I was “doing” something to reach my goal, instead of “not doing” something (eating). My current success started with me committing to walking 20 mins a day 6 days a week minimum. It gradually increased to 45 mins. I walked at about 3.2-3.5 mph so nothing really hard. I decided it had to be something I could do for the rest of my life. I could see doing a 20 min walk for the rest of my life. After I was within 10 lbs of my goal, I had the burning desire to work harder (not longer) so I learned to run and started doing minimal body weight exercises. Only in the last year have I gotten into longer workouts. I do 5 20-45 min strength training sessions and 3 running sessions. My runs are getting longer because I have signed up for a half marathon in the Fall of 2012.

    I do work with a trainer and in March he challenged me to do the strength training 5 days a week, up from 3. I was really happy with the results but I was burning out because of the time spent working out. I switched my schedule around some and it works much better. Only 2 days a week are longer than an hour and even that could be limited if I was not so chatty at the gym.

    Also, on the days that are longer (run and strength, or an hour plus run) I am ravenous.

  17. I think it depends on the person. I see people that are new to exercise doing just too much. You certainly can lose weight without exercise and I think using exercise to lose weight will disappoint people. Now, I push myself harder now than I used to in terms of biking.

    I am one of those you described that rode for a few hours on Saturday and then did a lifting workout on Sunday. But then, I am used to that. My body is used to it and I enjoy it. I don’t do that 7 days a week – not sustainable ( or enjoyable).

    Gradual buildup of exercise and lifestyle changes help them stick better than going gung-ho and burning out.
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  18. For weight loss to be sustainable, the routine–exercise and diet–has to be sustainable. The Olympic-level workouts will get old fast, and when someone reaches goal weight, they won’t want to stick to that plan. Maybe they can cut back exercise drastically and still keep the weight off, but I don’t know.

    The thing is, losing weight so quickly is proven, over and over again, to be ineffective. It comes back. Slow and steady, over time, with gradual and sustainable lifestyle changes, is best.

    It’s worked for me so far, anyway!
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  19. “I’m not sure about this one. I just know, that when I read these people’s stories, and see the amount of time they are spending exercising, I worry for them. I worry about sustainability.”

    Me too.

    This is a topic near and dear to my heart. It is not sustainable. I cringe when I read about people training through injuries or running at 300 pounds. If you have been over weight for some time your joints are hurting. When you get to the other side, there is life to be lived. Who wants to be a slave to the elliptical or weight room? Food is 85% of this journey anyways and what if you get injured, or are in an accident or who knows what that could prevent you from exercising? I’ve seen lots of people pack back on the pounds as a result. Exercise gives you endorphins and a great shape… That’s it’s benefit, but to rely on it for weight loss, or weight maintenance… I’m fond of saying, I’d rather not eat the donut.

    I lost my weight with walking, sometimes 6 miles a day 5 times a week. I paid a price for that. I already had a bum knee and that just made it worse. When I got to my happy weight (155) I had more knee surgeries resulting in complications and even more surgeries. I’ve spent the last five years of maintenance (the first two I was gung ho until the surgery issues) bad mouthing exercise because I have been in so much pain. Yet here I am seven and half years into maintenance and except for the baby weight have never put back on more than 10% of my total loss of 185lbs or even my low weight of 155. I have the OA of an 80 year old in my left knee and no stabilizing ligament. I have OA in many other joints as well at 35. Only recently have I begun to change my tune. It’s a struggle though, I need to last. How much is too much exercise right now? Currently I am working out with a trainer 2x a week. I brought new meaning to the term skinny fat. This effort has been to lose the baby weight, but I do feel better and strength helps support the rest of me when my knee can not. I also still walk a couple of miles several times a week but I worry with every step.

    I think that it’s just the other side of the extreme for some. I worry for these people, life should not be about extremes. Who wants to replace obsessive thoughts about what I am going to eat next with when I am going to work out next and if I don’t omg I’m going to gain weight. That head space is so much better used for life.

  20. I agree with Sarah, eating is 85% of the journey.

    When I started my weight loss journey I was moving around at work but that was about it. When I started what I wanted to do was learn how to be active in my daily life. Something that I could keep up with forever. So it was walking the dogs, going to the gym a few days a week, finding exercise that I love to do.

    Although I have run 1/2 marathons and triathlons (when I was thinner) I still did not over commit to training. Do what is necessary to prepare your body but don’t over do it because it is not something you can keep up for your life.
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  21. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 90% of the successful “maintainers” exercise; on average about an hour a day. Elsewhere on their website they mention that walking is a popular form of exercise among this group.

    I’ve read, and my doctor has told me, that exercise for 30 minutes a day at least 3 days a week is important for fitness, an hour a day most days (i.e., 6 days a week) is associated with weight loss/maintenance. When I was losing my weight, I aimed for a minimum of 60 minutes of walking a day but often did more like 90 – 120 minutes, 6 days a week. It was enjoyable and I had the time. Also I was post-menopause which makes weight loss a little more difficult, at least in my opinion. Since I don’t have TV, I’ve never seen those popular shows, but if you’re talking about working out (not walking) pretty much in place of a full time job, I can’t see that as sustainable – injury or fatigue will get you in the end! In my younger years when I was able to run, I gained weight when I upped my miles above 25 miles a week. And at 25 miles a week I wasn’t losing anything, I was just holding steady, even when I counted calories and should have been losing 2 pounds a week. So I don’t think exercise, even excess exercise, always results in significant weight loss or maintenance. What and how much you eat has to be part of the solution.

    As I’ve mentioned before, when I started my successful weight loss I decided to try something that I could maintain forever and see if that would result in weight loss. And it did, although very slowly. So I started with maintenance in a way and haven’t changed much. I have been roughly ten pounds above my revised goal (5 pounds above my original goal) for a few years now. Recently I decided to eliminated wheat from my diet (which is already low carb, I don’t eat much wheat) and was totally surprised to lose 7 pounds in two weeks without changing anything else. I had suspected a wheat sensitivity, and it seems that may be the case. Odd that eliminating 2-3 slices of diet bread (45 calories a slice) would cause such a rapid weight loss, so clearly something else is going on with me. And my hips have stopped hurting, which is the reason I tried the no wheat diet in the first place. Live and learn, I guess. Clearly some of us have more going on than the simple calories in and calories out calculations!

    I think the important thing, which you referred to in your post Diane, is that whatever you do it must be sustainable over the long term. And you must be honest with yourself about what you’re prepared to do long term.

  22. I don’t think I’d call it too much exercise, but I don’t think it is a smart way to go about things. If they are exercising that frequently and intensely, they should be dropping pounds pretty rapidly (not that I think that’s the right way either). It seems to me, you’re probably right about the food intake being high. We have to remember that our bodies aren’t invincible, we need rest and relaxation. Why eat a ton and work it all off with crazy amounts of exercise when you could just eat and exercise a sensible amount? As long as you create a deficit with calories in/calories out, you’ll lose weight and totally be able to maintain the lifestyle! I do agree with you…but I recognize that everyone has different philosophies about weight loss, so maybe I’m just not looking at it from their point of view.
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  23. Light exercise is good to keep one in shape, but unless one is doing it as a hobby — we know people like that, they just really get off on it and LOVE playing sports and running around; they exercise like I knit or play piano — it is there to burn off a calorie excess. Period. If you need to exercise to that extent in order to lose or maintain, you are still eating more than you need. And you’re probably creating the problem as well — get on a stairmaster for two hours a day all week long, and the first thing you’ll want to do is eat when you’re done. And people simply do not realize how little food is required to completely cancel out a session on a stairmaster. Get off that thing after sweating for two hours and grab a burger and fries, and you’re back in the hole.

  24. Yep – I’m one of those crazies, but I do it for a reason (training for races). I’m fully aware that I cannot run away from my calories consumed (in fact, when my training schedule peaks and right after, I’m most susceptible to gaining weight). When I’m not training, I’m at a more reasonable 30-60 mins 4-5 times per week.
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  25. I agree with you Diane, it has to be sustainable long term. Regular exercise is important to me but it has to fit into the rest of my life. It’s about finding a balance. I’ve always known that getting the eating normalized is the most important factor in weight loss; exercise is the second factor. If you exercise but don’t change your eating habits, you are just wasting your time and sweating for nothing!

    And I know for a fact that exercising a lot more doesn’t necessarily make weight loss easier – I trained for three half marathons and not once did that really help me lose weight – if anything I actually gained weight because I had to fuel for the long runs.
    Amy recently posted…Time to say goodbyeMy Profile

  26. Yes, there is such a thing as too much exercise, too much restriction, too much everything….

    There was one point in my weight loss journey that I was obsessed with the scale and exercised too much. I exercised every day for like 26 days and was exhausted, grumpy, burned out, and did NOT bust out of the plateau that was driving me crazy. I realized that I was doing too much and mandated that I’d take 2 rest days a week no matter what. That edict has stayed around since then and I think it’s healthy for me.
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  27. I think it’s quite possible to exercise too much, though how much is too much is an individual thing. I’ve done it, and I find myself hitting the wall and start getting colds, then I know to back off. I like the gym 2-3 times a week, 2 classes in a row plus yoga on Saturdays, and other random walks/bike rides as part of my commute. Some think that’s too much, but that’s why I can eat a lot more than what most weight losers can eat, from what I can tell from reading their blogs. I get depressed if I don’t exercise, and can’t sleep (can barely sleep anyway, but it gets REALLY bad if I’m sedentary), so I’m comfortable with what I do. There’s a guy in a few of my cardio classes who does a lot of cardio, really enjoys those ultra-marathons, and he looks sickly-thin and kinda flabby, but that’s his idea of fun, and he can afford to do it all day, so be it.
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  28. I completely agree with you and would venture to guess that the emphasis on being extreme and “badass” exacerbates the problem, not to mention all the visuals we are bombarded with. I also think that the reason those who exercise too much but find it hard to lose weight is because their bodies may be in shock and hanging on to every pound for protection (versus eating too much, although that can be an issue too).
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  29. I’m like you, Diane. I can commit, max, to an hour block a day at home or around my neighborhood. For me, that is enough for my TTap routines or riding my bike, doing my bands, whatever. But exercise is for fitness, dieting is for weight loss, and mixing the two is bad news in my mind. Yes, exercise can give a little calorie buffer if need be, especially for maintenance, but reliably calculating the about burned is almost impossible, and I think it is a bad habit to get into working out, especially rigorously, unless your goals are for strength, endurance, energy, etc.

    I also worry when these people use exercise in place of controlling, or at least being aware of, their food. You can out-eat any exercise program, you know?
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  30. Yes, there is such a thing!
    I don’t exercise to lose weight (although it helps). I exercise to get fit, stronger, faster. I eat to lose weight.
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  31. There is when you are over 40 I run a exercise site for the over 40 and although you can lift weights and do the same amount of cardio as someone in there 20s and 30s the time it takes you to recover takes longer thats the main differance
    kevin redman recently posted…Welcome to Muscle building over 40My Profile

    • Hope you dont mind me contacting you this way I liked what you said and I run a website for people our age. I would love to give you a five minute or so interview where you can talk about how you achieved your weight loss you get to plug your website as well. Check out my podcast (age is just a number) for a idea of what I do
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  32. I totally agree with you. I’m a BIG fan of The Biggest Loser, but I feel the same way for those contestants. They work so hard, and do such a great job, but when they go home…and real life sets in…what then? I know a lot of contestants have gained quite a bit of weight back, and have verbalized that being the reason. Of course, the eating plan on The Biggest Loser is much more strict, and unfortunately not covered enough, in my opinion. But it’s things like this that give people the idea that exercise=weight loss. I’ve found that eating habits have been probably 80% of my own personal weight loss, and the exercise has been a boost…and a help for my body and muscles.
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  33. Very valid post, Diane – and something to think about definitely. I first started doing two workouts a day last summer, when I would go for a 30 minute walk in the morning and then a run in the afternoon after work. I wasn’t doing it to lose weight, just to do something new to keep fit. Until that point, I figured two workouts a day was insane. But a walk constitutes a workout, and I couldn’t believe the change in my mood through the work day when I would get my walks in in the morning. Now I am back doing two workouts again, but both of them aren’t intense, and it’s not JUST to lose weight – I think the key is in keeping consistent, understand and listen to your body, and take those rest days. Your body knows when you’re working too hard, and tells you so, and if you don’t listen, then you risk over-training.

    With two workouts planned for a day, when I miss one workout, I can still get the other in! Two workouts aren’t for everyone, but moving oneself is. What is sustainable is whatever any individual will actually do…no matter what time frame, whether it’s what you do in a month or what you do over a year. And some of us exercise to eat…haha. ;)
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    • With two workouts planned for a day, when I miss one workout, I can still get the other in!

      Hah – a woman after my own heart!

  34. I exercised hard core when I first started losing weight last June. I hired a personal trainer and would do an hour with him and then 45 minutes of cardio. I’m older, mid 40s, so I’ve been around the weight loss block a few times. That’s why I never intended to keep up that amount of exercise. For one, it was the summer and I was off work and so had plenty of time. I just knew that I needed to get my metabolism roaring and I needed endorphin juices flowing to feel better, be happier and amp the motivation. It worked! I eventually had to stop the trainer ($$) but I have happily kept up with normal amount of exercise. However, I don’t think I’m the norm with this. Another thing I did was started blogging over at Roni’s BlogToLose and starting reading blogs, etc. I’m sorry it took 40+ years to realize that this is a life long journey. There is no ‘when I just get the weight off’, etc. Once I accepted that then everything else has just seemed easier.
    So, yes, I think there is such a thing as too much exercise for the average person. I’m like you. I read blogs about people working out times a day and eating 800 calories to boot. I terribly want to respond with ‘Are you crazy?’ but I refrain. In some ways, I feel like we have an obligation to respond but I usually cannot bring myself to do so.
    On a side note, I rarely post replies to your blog but I truly appreciate the thought, time and research that goes into your posts. I find them refreshing and stimulating!

  35. Becky Jones says:

    Well of course, before going into an exercise routine, it’s best to know your capabilities first right? Same goes with the bloggers you’ve encountered. In the first place, they won’t do that hardcore exercises if they think they’ll just push their selves too hard.
    Becky Jones recently posted…MSDSonline Teams up with ASSE and Jennifer Silk for GHS Webinar on April 19My Profile

  36. It’s a fact that weight loss is 90% diet. Exercise is key to optimal well being and health and does aid in losing weight, but as for what really makes the most difference in weight loss, it’s food! There was a time I was working out twice a day (for about a week) and I totally made up by eating more, I was so hungry, so that didn’t work out.

    I think the key is finding something, both diet and workout plan, that you can stick to long term.
    marie recently posted…May I have your attention?My Profile

  37. I agree with you on this one Diane that there can be too much exercise, with the exception of athletes in training. I worry when people become very intense in their level of fitness or strictness of eating to lose weight, because more often than not it is not sustainable and they gain the excess weight back.

    Unfortunately, the majority of people I know in real life who have embarked on weight loss journeys were very strict and intense and lost weight quickly; however, they have gained it all back after only a couple of years. I do have a small percent of friends who have actually maintained their weight loss and it’s those chose exercise plans that will fit in with their busy schedules for the rest of their lives.

    I guess I went off on the food aspect as well, but I think it’s the extremes in both activity and food that can be harmful in the long run.
    Leah recently posted…Sticking to GoalsMy Profile

  38. Hello Diane!
    There certainly is such a thing as too much exercise. Physicians aren’t even in disagreement about it ;)
    It’s not that you can exercise too much, in the normal way we think about exercising. Rather they advise runners and cardiovascular exercises to be limited to less than 45 minutes a day. It may actually be harmful to the body to do it for longer!
    Beverly recently posted…Phases of the HCG Diet PlanMy Profile

  39. I am a new comer to your website, Diane, and I love what I’m finding here.
    I am embarking on a whole foods meal plan and trying to get a grip on how to plan, shop and prepare for the switch to this better way of eating. I suffer from arthritis, which I am hoping will get better as I eat better. I used to attend a gym, but lower back pain got so bad I had to stop using it. I hate walking, think of a million other things I could be doing while I’m out there, and I hate the traffic I have to deal with in order to walk.

    Also, I have a loved one who is also overweight. Can you recommend a blog or two for men who have lost over 100 lbs and are now working to maintain in the midst of a busy life? He has two pre-school children and works and volunteers, but is also a member of his local YMCA. He, too, hates to walk.
    thanks, Lori

  40. Yes, there is such a thing. Unless you are training for something specific like a marathon, it is to much if you can’t keep it up for most of your life.
    cookie recently posted…D’oh!My Profile

  41. Loving the comments on here Lots of positive vibes from the over 40,s which is what I love
    kevin redman recently posted…Welcome to Muscle building over 40My Profile

  42. I am very careful not to question or judge others, as I feel there is no ONE right way to do anything. And BOY! Am I tired of being judged!!!!! However I can see this inspiring prayer, and for ME it comes back to my response on your post about what you’re giving up to lose weight. The price of that much time would be too much for my family! But for whatever reason, maybe those people need that for a time to get started and change habits?
    me recently posted…MONDAYMy Profile

  43. LovesCatsinCA says:

    I used to LOVE exercising several times a day when I was younger and in school. But then work and life stepped in… And in midlife, my weight does go up if I don’t spend an hour a day exercising on average. In fact, my weight has crept back up 10 pounds to “setpoint” (my natural weight) and I need to start watching portions better and exercising more to get back down to my normal weight–or at least within 5 pounds of it.

    You see, exercise helps dissipate stress–and I confess to eating to dissipate stress–so if I exercise more, I actually eat LESS.

    I have a younger friend who is working out a lot in preparation for her wedding. Are the pounds falling off? No. BUT THE INCHES ARE. She’s probably lost less than 5 pounds but she’s a couple dress sizes smaller! So even if it doesn’t look like these people on the websites you’re looking at, are reaping a lot of reward from their exercise routines, they probably are in terms of adding muscle mass (and metabolic rate.)

    Having been totally DUSTED when I was in my mid-40s going on a hike with the local Sierra Club seniors group where everyone was in their 60s, retired, and hiking a couple hours a day plus going to the gym for an hour or more, I realized that one can actually be in one’s best shape ever at an older age. I actually am looking forward to exercising multiple hours a day once I am retired. My mother has been taking line dancing and senior aerobics for years, and she walks as well, and she’s a trim 90 pounds (she’s very petite–I tower over her at 5 feet!) She probably averages at least 1/2 an hour of exercise a day–and she’s 86 years young.

    I think what one does might vary as one gets older. I used to love to lift weights when I was young. After years of having arthritis in my smaller joints like my knuckles, I can’t really grip much anymore. So I do more cardio and I walk and dance, and hike when I can.

    So I don’t think of hours of exercise as unsustainable if it’s something the people enjoy and anticipate keeping up.

  44. I was just reading this article after my comments as it is so intresting but have to big up LovesCatsinCA comments I run a website for older people and and whats they said is what a lot of people over 40 go through. There are always exceptions but the normal person getting in exercise is hard work and as you get older your recovery time from training gets longer. Loving the comments though
    kevin redman recently posted…Welcome to Muscle building over 40My Profile

  45. Whenever I read an article or post like this, I immediately start to feel a bit defensive.

    I work out twice a day, averaging about 15.5 hours a week. I started working out to lose the last 20 pounds, and have kept up that regimen since I got down to my current weight about 8.5 years ago.

    I certainly don’t work out at the level of an Olympian in training. Neither am I, as Vickie says, hostage to the “Biggest Loser syndrome”. In other words, my weight-loss maintenance doesn’t *rely* on exercise – but it sure helps.

    Those 15.5 hours include a lengthy hike, yoga, Pilates, stretching and joint mobility.As I age, I’m continuing to increase my overall strength and fitness, but becoming more aware that I need to keep up the flexibility work.


  1. [...] this is not a problem for me. I have seen this question bantered around before, but Fit To The Finish has some interesting discussions around heavy exercise and [...]