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Do the benefits of exercise wear off as your body gets used to it? © Getty Images

Do the benefits of exercise wear off as your body gets used to it?

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Asked by: Tim Harrison, via email

The benefits definitely diminish, but not because you get used to the exercise – it’s because your fitness level gets closer to the optimal level. Your strength and endurance can’t increase indefinitely, for a variety of biological limits. Your muscles have a maximum size that is strongly affected by genetics, and the same is true of the strength of your tendons and the oxygen-carrying capacity of your lungs.

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Sustained exercise at high levels (such as running more than 48 kilometres per week) has actually been shown to have a negative impact on your long-term health, causing permanent damage to the muscle fibres and nerves in the heart. A 2013 study of over 52,000 cross-country skiers found that those who had completed the most races had the highest chance of suffering heart rhythm problems.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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