5 exercises that age you (and how to prevent it)

This article was updated on July 16, 2021.

No matter your age or physical ability, exercising has plenty of health benefits. However, too much of a good thing can have detrimental effects – and exercise is no exception.

Overexercising, putting too much of an emphasis on one type of training, or overtraining can all have a lasting negative impact on your body – especially as you age.

Here are a few exercises that have the potential to age you if not done properly or too frequently – and how to help prevent damage.

Burpees

“Burpees can be a great full-body exercise to get the heart rate up in your workout, however, the exercise can give a bit of wear and tear on your knees,” explains Caley Crawford, Director of Education for Row House, a national rowing-based fitness brand.

“The wear and tear on your knees are typically caused by the downward ‘crouching’ motion before you pop your legs back behind you.”  

How to correct it: If you lack the mobility to place your hands on the ground during your squat, Crawford recommends an option for a different exercise that spikes your heart rate the same way, such as rowing. If you don’t have access to a rowing machine, jumping jacks or jump squats can also serve as a replacement.

Excessive cardio

To build a robust and healthy body, you need to diversify your workout. Cardio workouts have plenty of benefits – a boosted immune system, improved lung capacity, and boosted energy, to name a few. But as marathon runner Rhys Jenkins explains, committing to a cardio-only exercise regimen can end up burning through muscle rather than building it. 

How to correct it: “I ensure I do 2-3 weight sessions a week more to help maintain my muscle mass rather than increase it, as increased muscle would hamper my running efficiency and endurance,” says Jenkins. 

Lifting too much weight

Like the above, if your workout routine consists of only heavy lifting without a balance of cardio exercise, it can be detrimental. “Lifting weights that are too heavy strains the body and can cause injuries,” says fitness expert David McHugh, CEO, and Founder of My Mixify.

How to correct it: “It’s best to strive for variation in your workout routine,” says McHugh. “There’s no need to overwork yourself – exercising is meant to be fun! The best formula is focusing on low-impact workouts, stretching muscles during yoga, and increasing muscle mass with light lift-weighing.” 

Heated studio workouts 

“Everyone and their mother has heard of hot yoga,” says NSCA-certified personal trainer John Fawkes. “The thing is, working out in enclosed, heated conditions like a hot studio tend to exacerbate dehydration and muscle cramping.”

How to correct it: Skip the heated studio and opt for a traditional yoga workout a few times per week to balance your cardio and weight lifting routine. 

Running

“Running, sprinting, and even jogging can have an aging effect if you go too hard,” explains fitness expert Jonathan Frey, CMO of Urban Bikes Direct. “Once your glucose is tapped, your body will start to burn muscle and other healthy tissue. Over time this can cause your skin to sag.”

How to correct it: “Runners concerned about overdoing it might want to consider replacing just some of their workouts with bike rides,” says Frey. “Bicycling is low impact and targets your glutes and just about all of the major running muscles in your legs.” If biking isn’t your forte, McHugh says you can still go for a run. “Just make sure to alternate between types of exercises,” he recommends. “Run for 20 minutes on Monday, lift weights for 15 minutes on Wednesday and have regular stretching sessions for the maximum health benefits!”