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Exercise and Fitness

Can too much exercise affect your health?



My 78 year old father exercises 5 - 7 days a week for at least 2 - 3 hours each time (mostly walking very briskly and body sculpting exercises.) Can this affect his immune system in a negative way? He has been getting a lot of infections lately and now he has developed bursitis in his shoulder. He refuses to believe that over-exercising has anything to do with it. What do you think?


The American Council on Exercise (ACE, 2003) describes a syndrome called "General Overtraining Syndrome". This condition refers to an inability to recover from high-volume endurance training. One does not improve in performance or continues to plateau despite short-term rest periods or reduced training. The condition also refers to "disturbances in mood and sleep, loss of appetite and weight, muscle soreness, a propensity for overuse injuries, and increased resting heart rate".  Since your father is having frequent infections and bursitis, he should consult his physician.

It is great that your father exercises regularly. The American College of Sports Medicine's guidelines recommend cardiovascular activity 3-5 days per week, 20-30 minutes per session, strength training 2-3 days per week, and flexibility training.

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Response by:

Carolyn   Nickol, RD, MEd Carolyn Nickol, RD, MEd
Fitness Center at CARE\Crawley
University of Cincinnati