Excessive Cardio:Doing More Harm Than Good

Can excessive cardio be bad for you? This is a topic that is hotly debated in the fitness industry. Some years ago, cardio was seen as the holy grail of weight loss. Cardiovascular exercise is certainly beneficial to your health. We have been shown by decades of medical research that aerobic exercise plays a key role in the fight against obesity and all that goes with it.

This made the aerobic industry a booming business, that saw millions of men and women working hard with the aim of losing weight. However, people have realized that cardio is highly damaging when done in excess and facts are supporting this claim.

Excessive Cardio Effects

Many of the concepts we have learned about the physiology of exercise have been replaced by more recent research with a better understanding of how much time and effort you can devote to exercise without causing any harm.

First of all, it is important to note that 30-45 minutes on a stationary bike or jogging 3-5 days a week is not bad. Running on the treadmill every single day for 2 hours is bad. Running long distance marathons for the sole purpose of losing weight is bad. So, it becomes dangerous when you decide to run like a hamster on a wheel for hours just to lose weight.

HIIT vs Steady-State Cardio

The fact is that a few high-intensity training sessions in a few days should be more than enough to burn fat. This kind of training exercise is abbreviated as HIIT, which simply stands for high-intensity interval training. It should only take you about 20 minutes, and the results are far better and bigger compared to traditional cardio exercises.

On the other hand, if you go for low-intensity aerobic training, you will lose muscle mass, which is not good at all. HIIT does not lose muscle mass, but rather body fat. For example, marathon runners tend to be beefier, while sprinters are super lean. As far as your diet is healthy and you are keen on your calorie intake; then you will definitely lose weight.

Nevertheless, it does not matter if you are using conventional cardio or interval training; the main goal is to losing weight. Many people still believe that low-intensity cardio is effective in losing weight. Well, this is a myth that has been clearly disproved by research, even though it still exists.

With such a piece of information, then why do people continue to use long-distance cardio exercises to keep their weight under control and by some margin becoming healthier? Well, the true answer goes back to the old calories burning argument, which simply says that calories lost through workout should be more than calories consumed so as to lose weight. There is more that goes into it than this.

Is Too Much Cardio Unhealthy?

excessive cardio effects

What a majority of people do not know is that excessive cardio stresses the body, making it release cortisol Hormone. This is a stress hormone that has been linked to weight gain. What does this mean? Well, it merely means that excessive aerobic workout is actually not helping your weight loss goals. Which also means that for every step you take forward, you are going two steps back.

The production of T3 hormone decreases with too much cardio exercises. T3 is produced by the thyroid, and it is used to burn fat. Therefore, when this hormone production decreases, the body is unable to burn fat effectively. The same thing happens with testosterone, the main male hormone responsible for everything related to muscle growth, strength and a lot of other benefits.

Let’s not forget the fact that cardio stresses joints. Remember, any high impact the joints experience, the higher risk you have of experiencing joint problems. Therefore, anything that involves running and jumping may result in injuries such as hip bursitis, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. This is a risk that faces even those who do a limited amount of cardio workout. The hip and knees are the two joints that are at a higher risk, more especially in older persons.

The only solution for this involves exercises that are a bit friendly to your joints. Examples of such exercises include swimming, elliptical machine, or/and cycle. It is important to note that even with these exercises, you may suffer health issues if you overdo them. As such, it is wise to limit everything to about 45 minutes a day.

The biggest reason why cardio exercises are not the best form of weight loss is that overweight people are prone to joint and muscle injuries. These forms of injuries are brought by the fact their bodies are not used to such activities when the action is repetitive. The last thing you want is to injure yourself when trying to lose weight. Again, let’s not forget that cardio will only help to lose weight during exercises and not after the exercise.

After running for a long time, people often feel a serious craving for carb related foods. This is because the body needs a lot of carbohydrates to keep up with the physical demand placed on it with cardio exercises.

Research has shown that a majority of people who are trying to lose weight through cardio usually restrict their carb intake so that they can achieve their goal. When the body does not get what it wants, it will try as much as possible to still retain its body fat. For this reason, it takes a long time for a person to start seeing a difference. Furthermore, people become moody and fatigued, and this is not a pleasant situation to be in.

At present, there is some evidence showing that in fact, the body stores fat when cardio is overdone. This happens as the body uses its defense mechanisms in an attempt to store energy for the next long cardio session.

Can Too Much Cardio Cause Muscle Loss?

Can Too Much Cardio Cause Muscle Loss?

Resistance training alone may provide the most powerful stimulation to gain new or even preserve a person’s lean body mass. Type II Muscle fibers(Fast-twitch) are activated in standard weightlifting sessions since this type of training focuses on heavy weights and lower reps which is paramount to achieve this kind of results.

Unlike Type I( slow-twitch) muscle fibers that respond to higher reps. This is of great importance because if you engage in a prolonged aerobic workout to the extent of overdoing it you’re likely going to suffer a significant loss of lean body mass as a consequence of prioritizing only Type I(slow-twitch)muscle fibers.

Oxidative Stress

There’s a lot of research supporting the negative effects of extreme endurance training which is known to cause oxidative damage. The body releases free radicals which end up destroying body cells and hence accelerating the aging process, inflammation, and even damage to cardiac tissues. This scenario is also determined by the following variables: intensity, frequency, and/or length of the sessions; the extent to which other exercises such as resistance training are also included and other factors such as diet, sleep, and hormones.


All the above are some of the negative effects of excessive cardio workout. The truth is that short bursts of intensive exercises are far better and effective compared to long steady cardio sessions. However, it is important to note that different levels of fitness need different workout programs. If you must perform cardio exercises, then you should note that they should not go beyond 45 minutes.

On the other hand, cardio exercises are important when it comes to bringing the body weight and stamina to a point where you can do more short high-intensity exercises. After this, you should avoid long cardio session and stick with a short workout. This is an ideal way to lose weight.

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