Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

Could your one-hour workout do more harm than good?

Are you someone who works hard all day dealing with the stresses of work, then hit the gym or a fitness class hard for one hour?

If you are, then you may actually be doing yourself more harm than good.

Stereotypically when people think of a workout or training they think heavy breathing, sweating, lifting heavy, and running further.


These types of workouts have their place, but not every day and not after eight hours of sitting in front of a computer all day. If your goal is to improve your fitness, look and feel good then these types of workouts can be done one to two times.

Here are some reasons why you should be cutting back on high intense workouts.

High intense exercise releases cortisol
Light and moderate exercise is a great way to help relieve stress, but whenever we push our bodies hard we are releasing higher amounts of cortisol.

Cortisol is in charge of regulating changes in the body which happen in response to anxiety and tension, and it plays a role in managing our bodies fight-or-flight response.

When you do really high intensity exercise, your body releases cortisol in response to the stress. Short term this doesn’t have much of a harmful effect.

But if you are doing intense workouts nearly every day then you may be running into long term effects as your cortisol levels stay elevated.

These consistently elevated cortisol levels can lead to the health woes which you likely work out to avoid: blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, osteoporosis, and even impaired fertility.


It adds more pressure to the body
High intense training puts more pressure on the heart, lungs, joints and your central nervous system. Again we need to put our bodies through this from time to time, but we also need to listen to our bodies and give it the opportunity it needs to recover.

Consistently pushing yourself through a workout every day will result in an injury or illness. It’s like the body’s way of telling you to slow down, so listen to it.

Going from stress to flat out
If you are already stressed in work, then a high intense workout might be the last thing you need. Physically and mentally you are drained and adding the extra pressures which come with a high intense workout is something you may want to avoid.

Cramming it all in
You are sitting in one position all day or maybe you have been on your feet. Either way you haven’t taken your body through many ranges of motion.

When you hit the gym you twist, rotate, lunge, and sometimes with a weight, all in one hour. Our bodies aren’t designed to take this sudden change in such a short and intense time frame.

Before you think about dropping your CrossFit membership and not pushing yourself too hard, there are still ways in which you can train safely at a high intensity.

Reduce time
Step back on the number of days or even minutes that you are training at a high intensity. A four-minute Tabata workout, look it up, two times a week is more than enough for the majority of us.

Move little and often
To help maintain your step count, calories burnt or whatever you track, just move more throughout the day. Don’t feel that you have to cram it all in during your gym session. If you are sitting at a desk all day take movement breaks, park the car at the far end of the car park, take the stairs, go for a walk during your lunch break, or even walk/cycle to the gym.

All this extra movement means you won’t have to push as hard in the gym plus you have already put your body through a range of different in preparation for your workout.
Replace your high intensity with low intensity

So you have reduced the number of high intense workouts but this doesn’t mean it’s time to sit on the sofa and binge on Netflix. Instead replace the workouts with a lower intense option like a light yoga session, foam rolling and stretching, light jog or walk.

Even use the time you currently have to out for a bit of gardening.

This all counts as a form of exercise and will help you in reaching your lifelong goals in a way which your body will greatly appreciate.

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