Cardio is well-known for having wonderful benefits for the body. It helps with weight loss, helps to control blood sugar and helps reduce fatigue. However, there is such a thing as too much cardio, and it can lead to adverse effects on the body.
How much is too much?
The Cleveland Clinic states that "regular cardiovascular exercise is a 30-minute workout 5 or more days a week that increases [the] heart rate. Or try 3, 10-minute workouts 5+ days a week." People participating in extensive cardio routines that go beyond those guidelines could be causing "potentially serious damage including muscle pulls, muscle tears or damage to other supportive tissues such as...ligaments and tendons." Other adverse effects could include a "suppressed immune system, reproductive problems, heart problems and kidney problems," to name a few.
The Copenhagen City Heart Study
A study performed in 2015 that focused on 1,098 healthy joggers and 3,950 healthy non-joggers found that strenuous joggers had a higher mortality rate than light joggers. This finding was "not statistically different from that of the sedentary group," meaning that the benefits of strenuous jogging matched the benefits of being sedentary throughout the day.
How much cardio is recommended?
No one person is the same so a cardio workout that might be okay for one person to handle could be harmful to another. SparkPeople mentions that a lot of different variables come into play, such as "fitness level, lifestyle and current health status." It's important to take those variables into consideration when planning out a cardio routine.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends "adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week." It is also important to listen to your body and to take rest/recovery days seriously. Ignoring these factors could potentially lead to unexpected and unwanted injuries. As ACSM states, "gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk." Therefore, start out slow, gradually increase workouts and stay in tune to what your body tells you to prevent injuries.