Too much exercise can cause aging


We’ve all heard the mertis of exercising and how it can boost our metabolism and that in turn aid us in terms of having better circulation and complexion.  Although I believe that’s true to an extent, but I hate to exercise so I was secretly gloating when I came across this piece of information while reading my husband’s copy of Men’s Heath that our bodies produce free radicals during exercise.

Coincidentally, my husband recently pointed out to me that some women who exercise seem to look a lot older.  When I did a search on the topic, I learnt that excessive exercise promotes the biological aging of middle-aged women, according to Shin Yun-a, professor of physical education at Seoul National University.

Heavy exercises consume more oxygen
Shin released a paper regarding the effect of heavy exercise on middle-aged women’s telomeres, an aging indicator in cells and discovered telomeres got shorter when women in middle age in their 30s to 60s do excessive exercise. According to her, sudden and heavy exercise requires excessive oxygen consumption, causing aging. 

Shin explained that after heavy exercise, the women’s lipid peroxidation, that damage cells, rapidly increased. Excessive exercise also caused superoxide dismutase (SOD) deactivation — SOD is an enzyme protecting cells against aging.  (source

Free radicals cause cellular damage
Another article at the Department of Physiology in the University of Valencia also stated that exercise causes an increase in the generation of free radicals by cells and these radicals cause cellular damage.   However, this is only when exercise is exhaustive as strenous exercise causes oxidation of glutathione, release of cytosolic enzymes, and other signs of cell damage.

Antioxidant supplements can help
The same article pointed out that the damage can be prevented by antioxidant administration and this is similar to what I read in Men’s Health Magazine, which encouraged those who exercise to supplement with antioxidants (vitamins A, C & E) in order toreduce the post-workout infllamtion.  Definitely something to consider, especially for those who exercises regularly.

So if you exercise, do exercise in moderation as well.


  1. Jyoan says:

    I think it’s a matter of moderation… I see a lot my friends’ mums who exercise on a daily basis looking really radiant with beautiful skin. haha.

    But this does makes sense. As the title says, “too much” exercise… Logically thinking, if you use the washing machine 5 times a day, it’s definitely going to wear and tear faster. Human beings are no different.

  2. Karen says:

    Hmm…I wonder…does this apply to men as well?

  3. sesame says:

    I know…many people who exercise in moderation look radiant and beautiful. I should do more exercise but I’m plain lazy…or maybe I can have better skin. Haha…

    But there are crazy people who exercise like mad…like my husband.

  4. sesame says:

    Yes, it does but I think their skin is slightly different so they do not age so fast! But they do produce free radicals which will be harmful to their bodies in the long run. Must take more antioxidant vitamins.

  5. Yvette says:

    good to know. now i don’t feel guilty about missing out on the gym everyday. 2-3x a week is good enough i guess

  6. AtelierGal says:

    That’s the first time I’ve heard this theory. Good to know, since I’ve always hated PE when I was at school, and I rarely exercise these days except the occasional sit-ups ?

  7. Blovet Beauty says:

    i used to be pretty crazy about exercise. I would say that I agree about the part about exercising in moderation. Excessive exercise made me tired, bulky and very very hungry… ?

  8. Jani says:

    Now I’d just like to know what is considered excessive.. I mean celebrities exercise ALOT sometimes for their movie roles.. like up to 5 hrs a day etc.. but they still look great..

  9. sesame says:

    Haha…no guilt for you now! ?

  10. sesame says:

    Oh I hate PE too! I once told my PE teacher that jogging will make me old. ?

  11. sesame says:

    It seems you need to eat the right food to store enough energy for exercise. Well, going by what my husband eats at least…

  12. sesame says:

    I think celebrities can afford their own trainers and even personal doctor who can advice them what to do and what to take. So that definitely help. Not to forget they have the aesthetic doctors to fall back on.

  13. alixana says:

    I’d also like to know precisely what they mean by “too much”. Doctors recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio, at least 5 times a week. So what is the upper limit? And I suspect that the upper limit is going to be subjective – “strenous” exercise for one person could be just a walk in the park for someone who is a lot more fit… maybe it boils down to each individual’s personal fitness level and how much they can sustain?

  14. Vonvon says:

    *ehem* good to know this…esp the lazy me who has hardly touched my X-trainer for more than half a year already. And hubby wasn’t too happy about it. ?

    But from the Biochemistry point of view, the studies make sense. Hence, like you said, exercise in moderation, based on our own individual capability is the key.

  15. Raelynn says:

    I think the kind of exercise affects the aging process too. Imagine women who do seasports or play golf 3 4 times a week. irregardless of how much sunblock they put, it is just not enough to negate the effects that the sun has on them in addition to the free radicals. maybe that’s why yoga and pilates and dancing are quite popular “exercises”.

  16. Dee says:

    Yes, I’m so happy about this article. I’ve bulked up quite a bit when I use to exercise almost everyday. Definitely agree that moderation is key! Now I can feel less guilty when I rest for a few days!

  17. Robin @ says:

    I always feel guilty when I skip a workout…now I don’t feel so bad!

  18. sesame says:

    It probably applies to people who overstretch themselves in exercising. I also think if a person exercises, then it’s best to also take care of their diet and their supplements. A lot of people have the misconception that if they exercise (a lot too) that they’re healthy but it may not be the case.

  19. sesame says:

    *ahem* for me too! ?

  20. sesame says:

    Yes, you’re right too. If women who do active outdoor sports don’t protect themselves when they’re out in the sun, they’ll have more free radicals for sure…

  21. sesame says:

    Haha…it’s also a good excuse for lazy bums like me.

  22. sesame says:

    Good that the article helped ease your guilt! Hee…

  23. AtelierGal says:

    well, i always told my PE teacher that I’m having my period so I have skip any form of exercise. It helps when your teacher is a guy xD

  24. sesame says:

    Aiyoh, my PE teacher in college was a guy and he punished me and scolded me very hard for not wanting to jog. He said that I was cooking up grandmother’s tale. I hated him…and PE too!

  25. toh88 says:

    omg! this is REAL-ly new news to me! now i know why i look so old now though pple say i look younger than my age :'(

    but age is catching up. if i dun exercise I will get real lazy in no time and slotch on sofas more! argh!!!!

  26. sesame says:

    Go ahead and exercise. It’s good…just remember to take some vitamins and drink lots of water.

  27. stella says:

    i had really nasty PE teachers too who love to put down students who are less than athletically inclined and get (what i think are major ego trips) from ordering students around. i don’t think it’s really justified at all in any mainstream education system and that was just slightly over 10 years ago so definitely in the ‘modern’ era. i wish i knew more about filing complaints to the education authorities then about abusive teachers. having said that, the rest of my non-PE teachers were lovely

  28. sesame says:

    Actually now that you highlighted this, I recall the PE teacher in my secondary school was extremely nasty. She was known for slapping students if she’s not happy with them. Definitely more than 10 years ago.

  29. Chrystia says:

    But how much is to much? I exercise five times a week (mon.-fri.) at least 20 minutes jumping and then work out my upper body( Mon and thurs.) and lower body ( Tue. wed. and Friday) somewhere for a half an hour. Would you consider this two much? I’m asking cause I don’t want to look old (I just turned 22)
    Also I exercise cause I want…but they are coming very slowly for some reason..:(
    Thank you

  30. sesame says:

    I can’t tell either but your exercise routine sounds rigorous to me. My advice is that you take more vitamins containing antioxidants. My husband exercises about 3 – 4 times a week running and swimming. He finds that taking such supplements help him. And he doesn’t look old. ?

  31. lindsey says:

    Ive always done a lot of exercise, its something i like doing and hope my joints will allow me to do for the next 30 years. Im 30 now, but many people say i look about 27. I go to the gym 3 times a week for weights and cardio, my cardio is about 30-40 minutes. I also do lots of walking, and when younger it would add up to 30 miles per week. This was done walking to uni, work and just going out for a walk. Ive never worn sunscreen either, but never sit in the sun as it makes me ill. I know many people who protect there skin with sunblock to avoid aging, they end up with pale skin which looks ok on young people. But a middle age person with pale wrinkle free skin who does not exercise is still all old and flobby. I would rather exercise and look a bit sun exposed in my middle years and have some muscle tone and strength, then be a slow moving thing with pale skin. There is nothing worse then a middle age woman trying to look as young and fresh as her daughter on the outside, and having a body made of viscal fat and week muscles. The amount of women i see like this, if i was married to them i would tie them to a treadmill. Exercise does not age you if you eat well, ive never been underweight or dieted, diets are only for large people or those who dont exercise. If you diet and exercise you will be running towards an early menopause.

  32. Joel says:

    To chime in on “how much is too much”, I think you just listen to your body. At a certain level of exercise, it will start to make you feel good with endorphins and the health benefits. But if you’re exercising so much that you’re feeling like poop most of the time, then it’s time to change something i.e. cut back a little bit.

    Same goes for diet and sleep. Try different things. See what works for you (key word here being “you”) and adjust. but at the same time, be honest with yourself. Don’t just do something out of habit or because someone told you that you should. Instead, take an honest look at how it makes your body feel. If you feel great after eating pot roast and spinach, but feel like doo-doo after eating pasta, then maybe you’re better off with a low-carb, high protein diet with plenty of greens. Or it could be the other way around, who knows? The point is be like a scientist with your body. Experiment with different methods, write down how they make you feel after a few weeks, and adjust accordingly.

    It’s also good to change up your routine every few months, because you’ll get bored with it and your body will get too used to it.

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