Did you know that only 23% of Americans get enough exercise?

Most people can’t fit a workout routine into their schedule, while others lack motivation. Some fear that too much exercising could hurt them more than it helps.

Is that even possible, though? How much exercise is too much for the average person?

Worry not, we’ll clear the air for you. Read on below and learn how much exercise you need and what happens when you go over the limit.

1. HHS Guidelines

Are there official guidelines to follow when it comes to getting enough exercise?

Fortunately, there are specific guidelines, and these come from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They modified their guidelines recently and the new focus is to get any kind of physical activity instead of the strict, gym-like regiment of the past.

They break up the required exercise duration by age brackets because people of different ages require a different amount of activities to stay fit and healthy. Here’s a breakdown of the age brackets and how much exercise they should get per day.


This category includes children ages 3 to 5. The HHS recommends at least three hours of exercise every day. That might sound like a lot of physical activity, but remember that these are toddlers. You don’t have to make them go to the gym.

Physical activities for preschoolers include running around, playing at the park or playground, jumping, and swimming at the pool. Children at this age already run around often, which already counts as healthy fitness activities.

Kids and Teens

People between the ages of 6 and 17 fall under this category, and they need at least an hour of exercise per day. Their bodies continue to grow at this stage and require vigorous exercise. According to the HHS, kids at these ages should focus on bone-strengthening exercises, muscle-strengthening routines, and aerobic exercises.

Yes, lifting weights and professional aerobics help, but kids aren’t limited to these options. Joining the basketball team, swimming, and running all count.

Even household chores help. You can include activities like mowing the lawn, moving furniture around, or cleaning the house as part of their required physical workout.


Anyone between 18 and 64 falls into this group. This bracket also has specific goals, at least according to the HHS. They state adults should get around 75 minutes of vigorous activities, or around 150 minutes of moderate exercises per week.

What counts as moderate exercises? Brisk walking, biking, yard work, or jumping rope for a few minutes are great examples. Vigorous activities include running, hiking, rock climbing, and lifting weights, or doing resistance training at the gym.

Older Adults

This category is for people above the age of 64. They should hit the same goals per week as younger adults but there is a shift in the type of workout routines they perform.

Instead of hitting the gym or going rock climbing, elderly people should focus instead on balance training. Standing up from a chair, walking in a straight line (heel-to-toe), and standing on a wobble board are good exercises to start with.

2. Not Meeting the Guidelines

150 minutes per week might sound like a lot, but you don’t have to kill yourself to hit that goal. Exercising every day, even for 15 minutes every morning, can vastly improve your health.

You might not lose a lot of weight walking for 15 minutes a day, but you shouldn’t scoff at the effects it does to your body. Walking for 10 minutes already boosts your brain, enhancing coordination skills and memory.

Instead of trying to do 150 minutes per week right out of the bat, start slow. Get your rhythm going and get used to the habit of working out, walking, and performing physical activities. If you spend a lot of time sitting down, you need to get your body and mind ready for more strenuous activities.

This leads to the important question: how much exercise is too much? Can you get hurt doing too much or exercising for too long?

3. How Much Exercise is Too Much?

Is there a limit? Yes, there is!

Don’t feel bad if you feel too exhausted after a short trip to the gym. Even athletes who work out regularly have an upper limit. They have a ceiling that they shouldn’t overreach.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is perhaps the most popular method of exercising. The military uses it, and Cross-Fit Training takes cues from it too. However, you don’t have to jump right into it.

Instead of shooting for 150 minutes a week, go for 80 minutes. Once you’ve acclimated to that routine, make it harder and aim for 100 minutes. This amounts to 20 minutes a day for five days a week, and you still get two days of rest.

Once you’ve conquered that limit, push harder and go for 130 to 150 minutes a week. If you feel like you’re comfortable doing more vigorous routines, try hitting the gym or hike a trail.

4. Effects of Too Much Exercise

Too much exercise can strain your muscles, sprain your joints, and make it harder for your sore muscles to heal. Other effects include mood swings and having trouble sleeping.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be panting on the floor and exhausted to say you got the most out of your workout routine.

You could also experience severe headaches, vomiting, increased resting heart rate, and nausea from too much exercising. Pace yourself and know when to quit.

Rest at least one day per week and don’t work on the same muscle groups two days in a row. Let those muscles rest and focus on a different group the next day.

Get Moving Today!

How much exercise is too much? It depends on your age bracket and your current physical capabilities. The safest route is to start slow, make a note of how much you can handle, and work from there to reach the HHS recommendation.

But why stop learning about fitness here? We’ve got a plethora of other great guides for you. Check out this one about losing weight without calorie-counting.

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