Studies published show that, despite good intentions, those who regularly exercise for 2 hours or more might do more harm to their own bodies than great.

The study, which comes from Australian sports journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, reveals that extreme physiological strain on the body can activate Leaky Gut Syndrome — a condition where the intestine lining weakens, causing the passage of germs and toxins into the blood vessels.

It is thought that the resultant leakage of toxic waste is a main cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) and Chronic Illness, and has a part to play in a number of other illnesses. With no instant cure — though a gluten free diet would not go amiss — people putting in the hours in the gym may be better off putting aside some time on the couch.

However, it is not just your gut that may suffer with hard graft. There are a whole array of health risks associated with excessive exercise the health and fitness industry would rather you did not know.

Whilst the gym claims to hold the key to a happier, healthier you, science appears to be stating that there really can be too much of a fantastic thing.

A shaky immune system

Cortisol — a hormone generated by the adrenal gland during periods of physical stress — stimulates gluconeogenesis (the production of new glucose) in the liver and increases protein breakdown in the muscles.

It is essentially good. Keen to profit from its inflammatory effects, professional athletes have been injecting their wearied muscles with the stuff for many years (as have office employees who suffer with persistent RSI). But scientists arrived at the conclusion that the negative effects of cortisol may outweigh the advantages.

Whilst cortisol may decrease the swelling and reddening motivated by severe injuries, its immunosuppressive effects imply that people who suffer high and consistent cortisol levels are at more risk of falling sick.

One way of understanding this is in regard to this ‘fight-or-flight’ instinct. Levels of cortisol increase dramatically during moments of extreme stress — but these moments are generally very fleeting. You struggle, or take flight, and then the body’s self-limiting reaction system returns to normal.

But, that does not happen so fast once you overtrain. Essentially, your body does not have enough time to recuperate, so it remains in (or near) fight-or-flight mode. Your immune system pays the cost.

Weakened bones

Not only are individuals who over-exercise more at risk of illness but they are doubly prone to end up bed-bound thanks to cortisol’s interference with bone-building. When cortisol is in the blood, more bone tissue is broken down than is deposited. It follows that exercise addicts, whose bodies stay in a chronic state of anxiety, put themselves at greater risk of fractures and breakage.

The consequent loss in bone density may cause serious conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis, which may haunt excessive exercisers in later life.

Abnormal heart rhythms

A long but gentle session on the treadmill can not hurt, right? Wrong. Individuals who regularly take part in endurance sports are in danger of causing permanent structural changes to heart muscles that scientists describe as ‘cardiotoxic’.

Such modifications are thought to induce athletes to arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms), which makes them more prone to sudden cardiac death. For years, a couple of clean-living sports nuts have sat smug in the knowledge that tobacco, caffeine and recreational drugs are the primary causes of an irregular heartbeat. But studies published by the European Heart Journal in 2013 imply that – particularly for anyone who have a history of irregular heartbeats – overdoing the fat-burning workout may also contribute to inadequate cardio health.

The study, which measured the heart rhythms of over 52,000 cross-country skiiers during a ten year period, found that the risk of arrhythmia is raised with each race finished, and was up to 30computer higher for those who collaborated year-on-year for a period of five decades. Exercise intensity also influenced results: those who completed fastest were at greater risk for arrhythmia.

Mental health

Pumping iron on a daily basis may be a fast-track into the Baywatch body you have always craved — but hitting the weights has proven detrimental impacts on mental health.

Studies into what’s called ‘Overtraining Syndrome’ reveal that individuals who overtrain portray the identical biochemical markers as people with clinical depression — that is to say that the emission of serotonin and tryptophan are changed by both ailments. Behaviourally also, the clinically depressed and the overtrained were perceived to discuss lowered motivation, irritability and sleeplessness.

Last year the Technical University of Munich found that young athletes that do not leave enough time to recuperate from stress and injury are 20computer more likely to suffer from depression.

Struggling to get the motivation to haul your reluctant body into the gym? It may be time to ease off the weights.