Is It Unhealthy To Do Cardio Every Day? You Might Be Overdoing It, According To Experts
Whether you absolutely live for your morning runs, or you constantly crave your after-work SoulCycle class, cardio is an incredibly cathartic and wonderfully sweat-infused form of stress relief. And while there's certainly nothing wrong with committing to your daily cardio workouts, it's still possible to overdo it, as is the case with anything in life. So it's not exactly that it's unhealthy to do cardio every day, but experts say if you're pushing your body too hard in these types of workouts, you might not actually reap any benefits, mental or physical, from the routine.
According to Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, there are a couple of potential cons to doing cardio every single day, a major one being something called overtraining syndrome (OTS). "Overtraining syndrome can be described as your body running on empty," Backe tells Elite Daily over email. "The condition has been seen to cause chronic fatigue, mood swings, immune dysfunction, and muscle damage."
Basically, if you dedicate a huge chunk of your time every single day to lengthy cardio sessions, your body might decide it's simply under too much stress and too exhausted to function, and those unpleasant symptoms of OTS could begin to set in.
So even though you may feel like you're doing all the right things in your workout routine by maintaining that dedication to daily cardio, your body might think otherwise, and that's when Backe says it's imperative to listen up and slow down. "Although OTS is relatively uncommon, it’s crucial that you don’t push yourself to this extreme," Backe tells Elite Daily. Because the thing is, if you just can't get enough of that cardio grind, and you start overdoing it with cycling, sprinting, jogging, and everything in between, Backe says you could also risk over-stressing your heart. "Exercise works by pushing muscles to their limit, recuperating, then rebuilding them [to be] stronger," he explains. "However, skipping the recovery stage can have serious consequences, including major cardiovascular problems."
This isn't to scare you, BTW, but having that go-go-go mentality and immersing yourself in too much high-intensity training could eventually lead to an irregular heartbeat, says Backe, which might cause other scary health complications, he adds, like blood clots and strokes. The solution here, he explains, is relatively simple: Take breaks in your workout routine by scheduling rest days for yourself, and commit to that downtime the same way you've been doing for your cardio sessions.
Now, there are other potential consequences of cardio overload that are a little less extreme, but are still worth being aware of. According to movement specialist Kate Hamm, of wellness company AnamBliss, you could be throwing your body, and more specifically, your muscles, totally off-balance if you, say, run the same four miles on the exact same route every single day. "[You'll be] encouraging muscle imbalances to happen," Hamm explains. "Think of standing sideways on an angled platform and how that feels in your feet. If you run, your feet are going into that angle to contact the ground over and over."
But even if running isn't your go-to form of cardio, Hamm says cycling can cause similar imbalances in your body, such as a perpetually hunched-over posture. TBH, I feel that on a spiritual level, because sometimes I get into a little too much of a groove in my SoulCycle classes, which feels great initially, but I can tell my posture's definitely paying the price a bit.
According to Hamm, the best way to avoid these imbalances and get the most from your cardio sessions is to mix up your routine as much as you can. For instance, she says, if you're a daily runner, you could change your route and hit up some hills or explore different trails in your area. You can also try different surfaces like the beach, or even grassier terrain, to keep your body guessing.
Another solution is to experiment with less intense forms of exercise for a while to allow your body some time to chill and rediscover that sense of balance. Whether you decide to dabble in yoga sequences or leisurely strolls around the block, there are so many low-intensity workouts you can try that'll still help you reap the benefits you're searching for, but won't totally exhaust your body. And again, make sure you're taking at least one to two rest days each week, and that you're alternating your high-intensity cardio days with more relaxing, restorative exercises.
Cardio's not going anywhere, girl. It'll be there next week, and the week after that. At the end of the day, it's important to practice moderation, and above all, to respect your body's limits.