High Intensity Workouts: Are They Healthy?

High Intensity Workouts: Are They Healthy?


By Valentine Reed-Johnson, RD, CDN, Contributing Blogger

We are all doing it. Working out is no longer running, biking, or swimming, it now involves killing yourself for an hour in the most highly intense way possible. Welcome to the age of cultish crazed exercise. The energy is undeniably addicting, but is it really good for us long term?

Why Does It Feel So Good?
Moderation seems to have been lost in all regards; exercise, not being an exception. Once upon a time people used to do housework, cook, run around after their families, and walk everywhere, but now we hire cleaners, order in, and sit at desks. No wonder a high intensity hour-long workout feels wonderful; it’s because we just don’t move how we were designed to throughout the day.

Long Term Effects
The pressure these workouts put on our body is evident. Many people are in pain and have truly hurt themselves with these kinds of workouts. After some research, the long-term cardiovascular effects, as well as the damage to our joints and muscles, are the main concerns.

The correlation between heart health and intense workouts were studied. Rats were made to participate in excessive, strenuous, uninterrupted running in order to determine the cardiovascular effects of extreme endurance athletes. The findings supported the hypothesis that long-term strenuous daily endurance training can cause structural cardiovascular changes. It has been shown that moderate, more consistent physical activity is less strenuous to our cardiovascular system. Furthermore, it has been documented that a safe upper-dose limit of exercise potentially exists for the level of intensity of workout that is safe.

In regards to joint and muscle health, a New York Times article suggests a moderate exercise program that includes low-impact aerobics, power, and strength training as the safest form of exercise. Furthermore, incorrect movements can cause mechanical problems in the muscles. In no way does this research suggest IN-activity is the answer, the research simply supports moderation in intensity.

Quick Fix?
If there were a way to create a more active society, the need for hour-long crazed workout sessions would be less. We are all deprived of movement and have now found a way to replace it. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to a healthier lifestyle. There is a reason it is called a “life-style.” Eating well and being active is a 24-hour, long-term job that prevents disease down the road. The more short cuts there are now, the worse the repercussions will be later on.


Valentine is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, currently working at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. At the hospital she covers general medicine floors. Eventually, Valentine hopes to open up a private practice along side her hospital position. Valentine believes in providing practical nutrition knowledge, encouraging others to think logically when it comes to their health. Follow Valentine on twitter or check out her website.

  • The Sunday Skinny 8/30/15 - Skinny Fitalicious
    Posted at 05:01h, 30 August Reply

    […] High Intensity Workouts: Are They Healthy? – I always suspected this. […]

  • Mike Caulo
    Posted at 20:11h, 02 September Reply

    I love this topic and as much as I agree health is a lifestyle and High Intensity workouts for a prolonged period of time can be overall detrimental, if done for a short period of time, cycled appropriately and workouts selected by a professional for the individual goal, High Intensity workouts can be an amazing part of any program.

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