Exercise is great but it can be as harmful as being sedentary, IF YOU OVER DO IT!
Society has developed a no gain, no pain attitude towards fitness which should be avoided if you want to remain physically active and healthy long term.
Some people use the gym to simply remain physically active, with no particular goal in mind which is great, but if you’re working towards a particular fitness or strength goal and aren’t seeing improvements and increases in your fitness by around 1 - 3% during each workout then you probably aren’t recovering as well as you should by making sleep and nutrition a priority. Exercise alone is stress upon the body and after a hard workout the last thing your body wants is more stress from poor food choices and not enough sleep. Stress from a workout is called Eustress which can be beneficial for health but without proper recovery this stress becomes bad for our health which can cause a decline in our immune function. The harder you workout, the harder your liver has to work to clean up the cortisol and lactic acid from the body.
How much time in the gym should you doing?
By looking at the different variables in exercise; frequency, intensity and duration - this is a good way to predict how much exercise you should be doing. If the intensity of exercise is extremely high you would want to keep your workouts short and definitely no longer than one hour. If intensity is low then its fine to exercise daily, with a duration for around an hour each time. Rest periods should be longer if the intensity is high as you become susceptible to injuries if high intensity bouts of exercise is too frequent.
When pushing yourself in gym the connective tissues and tendons can take up to 4-6 days to recover, which is longer than our muscles take to recover, as there is no blood supply to tendons and connective tissues and this is why injuries can occur when exercise is combined with high intensity, too frequent and the duration is too long.
Working harder in the gym can sometimes result in weight gain due to a high stress response. When the body is under high stress levels which you could call 'the danger zone' over a long period of time the body’s natural response is to hold water and sometimes store extra fat as a form of protection. Eventually over a long period of time, this stress can result in the development of hypothyroidism, which is an under-active thyroid (a gland in the neck) that stops producing enough hormones.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are, feeling tired, weight gain and being sensitive to the cold.
Exercise can be a method for many to deal with poor body image by over-eating rubbish food then burning it off in the gym as a form of punishment. If you want a particular physique then fuel your body with good nutrition to ensure your body is repairing and recovering as necessary. Drinking alcohol at the weekend, eating lots of sugary foods and eating poor saturated fats and hydrogenated fats will not support your health especially when you're active. Resulting in injuries, fatigue, and lowered immune system.
Choose to use exercise as a way to celebrate what your body is capable of doing, set targets yourself, look for progress in each workout without pushing yourself in to the 'danger zone' and enjoy your workouts and those great results!