people over-exercising on the treadmill for faster weight loss

Over-Exercising Causes Stress and Weight Gain

You may think over-exercising will bring you to your weight loss goals sooner. But did you know that over-exercising actually causes stress to your body? And that a stressed out body retains fat for protection which ultimately causes weight gain?

Over-exercising may be more common than you think.

The “Never Miss a Workout” mentality can be really dangerous to your health. Our society has normalized over-exercising. First, we’re already stressed out as it is with all of life’s expectations. Secondly, we’ve forgotten the importance of rest! Rest is such an integral part of our physical health (and mental health too!)

I often see women who take my barre class as their warm-up or cool down to an intense spin or step class. Or they think they still need to go run on the treadmill afterwards to “get their cardio in.” Because surely 55 minutes of squats, lunges, planks, core and weight lifting can’t be enough. *face palm*

Spending multiple hours and doing cardio every day to quickly lose weight is so unnecessary! Aside from the strain this type of schedule can put on your life and relationships, it simply isn’t healthy for your body to dedicate multiple hours at the gym.

Stress is more than just event-based. Over-exercise can cause stress in your body.

Did you know that over-exercising is perceived as physical stress to your body? And stress causes your body to hold onto fat?

Much like the side-effects of emotional stress, your body naturally flips into “fight-or-flight” mode and stores extra fat to ensure you’re properly fueled should danger erupt. We aren’t meant to live life with that much cortisol coursing through our bodies! I think we often chalk stress up only to drama in our lives, but it can be self-inflicting if we’re over-exercising throughout the week in the hopes of losing weight.

Reduce stress by finding joy in exercise!

You can live an intuitively healthy life in just 30 minutes of movement per day. And it doesn’t have to be within the walls of a gym either. Going for a walk with your dog. Enjoying a family bike ride. Or planting flowers in your garden. All count towards your daily exercising goals—without stress!

The best approach you can take to fitness is finding what movement brings you joy. What do you truly enjoy doing? Just because your neighbor set up her garage as a CrossFit gym, doesn’t mean you have to take that path to achieve health.

You don’t have to run or go to Zumba. And you don’t have to take barre class. But if you love doing any of those things or something else, then that is what you should be doing! Exercise shouldn’t be punishment. It should be something you willingly do for your enjoyment and therefore your health.

Did you know over-exercising is perceived as stress to your body? Stress causes your body to gain weight and retain fat. Exercising for more than an hour a day is not the faster way to fat loss. Read to learn more at

Does exercise bring you joy or is it stressing you out? Let me know in the comments below!

Meridith Oram is an anti-diet nutritionist at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image by ditching diet culture and finding freedom in their God-given intuition. Focusing on behavioral change and Intuitive Eating, Meridith helps her clients unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

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