Can Too Much Exercise Shorten Your Lifespan?

by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

It’s happening: more people are moving. Frantically.

In the UK alone, the fitness industry grew to a massive £4.08 billion per year, thousands of fitness apps are developed every month, and a brand new fitness facility opens every other day (TLDCi, 2014).

More of us are cycling, running, walking, getting stronger, and becoming increasingly passionate about training.

But the question is: can you be overdoing it?

Could exercising too much cancel out all of its health benefits? Or even worse, shorten your lifespan?

How much exercise is too much?

Grab “Can Too Much Exercise Shorten Your Lifespan?” below:


Download PDF NOW!


Conveniently download this 26-page science report. Contains links to extra reading materials and scientific references.

Topics covered in this report:

  1. Faster, better, stronger…
  2. Is exercise really that good?
  3. Graph: The wonders of moving
  4. Is a little bit of exercise useless?
  5. Is too much exercise dangerous?
  6. Sudden cardiac arrest
  7. Should you exercise less?
  8. The Metabolic EquivalenT
  9. Different activity, different MET
  10. Computing your own MET
  11. What’s the right dose of exercise?
  12. The peak of benefits
  13. Marathon. Triathlon. Tour de France.
  14. Embracing the Olympian in you
  15. The ideal dose for a longer life
  16. How long vs. how intense
  17. Vigorous exercise is good
  18. Your key takeaways
  19. Learn more
  20. References and resources


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Once you've had the chance to read, I'd love to know...

What’s your weekly MET? And where do you fall in the “Longevity Benefit” table on slide 18?

Vote and leave a comment with your stats. I'm excited to see what you share!



Where do you approximately fall in the “Longevity Benefit” table on slide 18?
Alex Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for students. She is a Harvard-trained scientific researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups every other Thursday.
Connect with Alex via email.

Every other Thursday we share our research and actionable advice to help you and those you care about. If you enjoyed this, join our FREE updates.



  • Kevin G

    Reply Reply May 21, 2015

    MET of 69, 24 vigorous, 23 Moderate, 22 light. 3 hours running and 7 hours walking a week on average. A healthy body leads to a happy life

    • Alex

      Reply Reply May 21, 2015

      Kevin – brilliant, that’s a good split between vigorous, moderate and light, close to the % in the last study in the report!

  • Sharon Henry

    Reply Reply May 21, 2015

    22.5 – 37.5.

    I do 30 minutes exercise at home in the morning when I get up = stretch bands, weights, yoga, pilates to keep supple. Every day I try to walk during a one hour lunch hour. During evenings I often go for walks or cycle rides between 1 – 2 hours. At weekends I like to go for long walks or cycle rides in hilly, rural areas so I get a good work-out. These vary in length from 2 – 5 hours and involve going up and down many hills. I prefer to be out in the countryside which is good for the soul and spirit too. Also love singing, song-writing and playing guitar – good lung and mind work-out! My mind and body are definitely healed and rejuvenated by getting out into the fresh air and getting physical exercise. I do not like being shut up in a gym.

  • JoJo

    Reply Reply May 21, 2015

    What a fantastic and clearly written report, especially after the tabloids got hold of this story a couple of months ago and began scaremongering everybody into thinking exercise was bad for them…they presented a very skewed version of the results! But this report couldn’t have been clearer, I especially liked the human body graphic and the table at the end which helped me calculate my own exercise levels…but I think I might need to make a little more effort to reach that magical 39% :-) Thanks for another great report!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply May 21, 2015

      JoJo – yes, journalists are pushed by editors to spice-up their content and that’s how we end up seeing headlines that create an unnecessary nocebo effect in people’s minds… I personally think that’s unethical and editors need to take more responsibility for what they put out there. The psychology of belief is very powerful and not to be played with. Even sites like Mercola and Food Babe continue to terrorise people with pseudo-science. We have an interesting blog post on this coming out soon. I’m very keep to educate our readers so they get better at detecting fads and don’t believe everything they read

  • Sophie Ash (Research Analyst)

    Reply Reply May 21, 2015

    This report is the perfect excuse to reflect on our current activity levels and remind ourselves why we do what we do.

    I really struggled to fit in regular exercise when I was younger but over the past couple of years I’ve got a routine going, which I love and feel much better for. It’s reassuring to know that the longevity benefits are significant (and very similar!) as long as you meet the recommended minimum.

    Thanks for giving us all an update on the current research around exercise :-)

    • Alex

      Reply Reply May 21, 2015

      Sophie – that’s the secret, to find the type of activity your body loves! Research shows that we’re more likely to feel inspired to exercise when we recall happy memories of moving our bodies in a way that we enjoy :-)

  • Maurice

    Reply Reply May 21, 2015

    With the good weather coming through again (got to grab every opportunity here!) it feels like the perfect time to “up the METs”! My sense is that life insurance companies will also spend more attention to this kind of stat going forward…

  • Michelle

    Reply Reply May 22, 2015

    Really enjoyed this report. There has been too much negativity in the press about how exercise can be detrimental to your health. I’m going to have to send this to a few family members who keep telling me how running marathons are bad for my heath.
    If anyone pays attention to Boston, MA sports news…Pawtucket Red Sox president James Skeffington passed away a few days ago while running (heart attack). But he was 73. How many individuals out there died of heart attacks when they are much younger due to inactivity? Exercise and eat healthy to live a long happy life.

  • Maggie

    Reply Reply May 23, 2015

    Thank you HSA for bringing this report. It is reassuring that moving at all can make a difference but also to take on the challenge of moving a lot more and vigorously will make an even bigger difference! I will personally take up the challenge and encourage my family to get out there and start moving!

  • Memuna

    Reply Reply May 26, 2015

    Activity should be in syn with age.
    Being active whether young and old is good along with balanced nutritionvand engaging in happy pursuits

  • Kristene

    Reply Reply May 26, 2015

    Fascinating read, I’m about a 9.6, so I’m pleased I’m doing something good with my time that will extend my life! I try to do a half hour 4 x a week.

  • Matt

    Reply Reply May 26, 2015

    Very interesting read. This is a hot topic. I actually do follow Dr Mercola and he does at times put the scare in people saying the endurance training is not good for long term health. He is big on HIIT training and doing the minimalist approach to exercise, which is fine. I just think there shouldn’t be so much negativity surrounding endurance sports like running and cycling etc. I think having a balance of HIIT, endurance training session and easy workouts coupled with proper rest/recovery and of course other lifestyle habits like nourishing foods, pure filtered water, minimizing stress, cutting back on EMF and Wifi exposure when ever possible and proper sleep to name a few are some of the foundations to thriving well into old age and aging gracefully.

  • Alejandro Salcedo

    Reply Reply May 27, 2015

    I am about 30MET. I am regular runner and do other aerobic activities. Sometimes I reduce due to injuries. I know I need to do more stretching. Other time due to work travel take few days to recover and go back to normal. In winter I eat more carbs and make me sluggish and I hate it. But working on that. When I do 4 times a week I feel very energetic and more alert and better humor.

  • Marie

    Reply Reply June 8, 2015

    Again Alex, you have a wonderful and creative way of writing, so easily to follow. As JoJo states there has been a lot of scaremongering in the press. From readying your report I guess it is all about balance, and listening to ones body. Your diagrams and graphs make it easy to interpret results, and evaluate levels of exercise.

    Look forward to reading next Thursday Report, and thank again for sharing

  • Anna

    Reply Reply June 9, 2015

    Crazy, I’m at about 50~60. Most of the bulk comes from the fact that I rollerblade to work back and forth which accumulates to about 10 hours of light/moderate cardio.

    When the METs for subjects were calculated, they only included the ones from physical activity, right? I see sleeping and sitting at work on the list, but it seems that the study was only counting sport activities

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