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Do the Least You Have to Do for Paleo Fitness

The idea that a perpetually enlarging dose of exercise — that is, spending a lot of time in the gym — will continue to improve the body’s function and appearance indefinitely is as unsound and nearly as dangerous as the notion that the complexion and health of the skin will improve in direct ratio to the number of hours spent basking in the sun.

Exercise is to be practiced judiciously. You want to do just enough to get the job done and not a smidgeon more.

Too much exercise can lead to a chronic state of stress known as overtraining. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Increased/abnormal heart rate

  • Insomnia

  • Low energy/chronic fatigue

  • Low libido

  • Memory problems

  • Poor concentration

  • Weight gain

The chief aim of exercise is to impose a demand on the bodily systems — to inject stress and subsequently force an adaptation. The body requires time to recover from the stress, and to adapt, you must rest.

When you inject more stress than you can accommodate, recovery is inhibited and you, at best, decelerate your progress and, at worst, die. Indeed, the latter is quite rare, but still, it can happen.

Intense exercise is a potent drug; a little does a lot of good, but a lot does very little good. In other words, if what you’re doing is effective, the marginal returns are severely diminished after you’ve run the minimum dose. Anything beyond the minimum dose is simply wasteful. For example, if it takes only x number of reps to elicit the response you want, then don’t do x + 1.

So how much is enough? The answer depends on what you want. But in any circumstance, it’s probably less than you think.

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