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Exercise has been touted as one of the most crucial and beneficial components to a healthy and long life. Many also depend on exercise to combat the extra pounds, or jumpstart their life towards a hefty weight loss goal. Yet, could there be a negative side effect of too much exercise? Could excessive exercise actually counteract the effort and time you are putting into weight loss? Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing, and there are actually surprising side effects of too much exercise.

Firstly, excessive exercise can actually alter the body’s hormone levels, where hormones such as testosterone and cortisol could become unbalanced. Such a change could potentially cause the body to burn muscle instead of fat. This would not only intensify the difficulty of your regular workout regimen, but also result in frustrating weight gain due to the dysregulation of hormones. Additionally, high levels of cortisol which stay elevated for a long time can actually disturb the proper functioning of adrenal glands. Thus, when the cortisol levels drop to a level below normal, weight gain can also occur.

Secondly, in order to replenish the calories burned from over-exercise, the body may be more easily susceptible to hunger and cravings. Although it is proper regimen to engage in both adequate exercise and diet habits, some people may feel no longer bothered to maintain a well-balanced diet due to the sacrifice they feel they are making towards over-exercising. This can lead them to subconsciously consume more calories than needed to compensate for the excessive exercise. In fact, individuals dealing with lethargy and soreness from excess exercise may find themselves more tempted to go for quick, mood-boosting foods that are not necessarily nutritious, such as sugary or fatty snacks. Moreover, some exercise machines such as treadmills can never guarantee absolute accuracy towards the calories burned, even if you enter your weight before the run. Some statistical reports show that many cardio machines actually overestimate the amount of calories burned up to twenty percent. Such a flaw can easily mislead many to overestimate the calories needed to sustain their energy and body.

However, having the opposite problem can also result in weight gain. Burning off too many calories that you do not adequately compensate for in food consumption can also cause you to put on the pounds. When the body thinks that it is starving, it can lead to a slower metabolism as an evolutionary defense mechanism. The decreased rate of metabolism can ultimately lead to less calories burned in addition to causing the body to hold onto fat storage. Exerting oneself on too little calories can cause you to have to apply more effort and determination into losing the weight, since the body will try harder to hold onto the fat as a survival and protective measure. Running on too little calories caused by over-exercise and lack of caloric consumption can also lead to changes in hormone production. One of the most notable hormones affected by this is cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol may increase in production as the body’s reaction to such a predicament, since maintaining a low-calorie lifestyle through over-exertion or underconsumption is a physiological and biological stressor. An increase in cortisol can contribute significantly to the body increasing in fat storage as well as weight gain.

In conclusion, even though there are possible surprising side effects of over-exercising, individuals should still integrate a healthy amount of exercise into their routines to promote weight loss and a better lifestyle. The science is still out, but overall, there are still many benefits to moderately paced and health-conscious exercise. Such benefits include improvements to the health, stamina, strength and energy. The point of the matter is, too much of anything can be a bad thing, but a good amount always goes a long way.

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