What Happens When You Take A Break From Exercising?

| October 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

When you exercise on a regular basis, you not only gain physical benefits, but neurological ones as well. Although these gains only take a few weeks to notice, they can disappear just as quickly once the exercise stops. It takes twice as long as an inactive period to get back into shape. For example, if you stop your normal exercise routine for a period of two weeks, it will take up to four weeks to resume your previous level of fitness.

Why do fitness levels drop after two weeks of inactivity?

Even though the body needs time to recover after an intense bout of physical activity, completely skipping workouts for a period as short as two weeks is enough to qualify you as “out of shape.”

A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that ceasing exercise for two weeks is enough to greatly reduce insulin sensitivity, lean muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness. During that time, a measure of cardiovascular endurance known as a VO2 max will begin to drop at a rate of half a percent a day.

In a related study, researchers determined that not only can a person’s VO2 max drop seven percent after a 12-day period of inactivity, but enzymes associated with endurance levels can drop by 50 percent. It was also discovered that endurance cyclists experienced a 20 percent drop in VO2 levels following a four-week period of inactivity. Even trained athletes lost all VO2 gains after being inactive for four weeks.

Does inactivity cause muscle loss?

Although cardiovascular gains deplete quickly during periods of inactivity, strength gains do not recede as fast. Newly-made gains appear to stay in place even after a several-month period of inactivity. Researchers studied a group of untrained men who participated in a strength-training program for a period of 15 weeks. In the middle of the program, the men took a three-week break, with no decrease in strength levels after the training program resumed. For, most this is simply not the case. Take a two week vacation, then hit the gym…you tell me. Aging plays a key role here, as the older we get the more quickly our body loses strength, muscle mass and endurance. Mid 40s you can anticipate the loss of .5 percent lean mass annually. Do nothing and pile on fat mass in its place. Women get the double down of bone mass loss at a rate of .3 to .5 percent annually. Do nothing and suffer a slip, trip and fall, there goes a wrist or worse yet, a hip.

Skipping exercise can increase the risk of death

Most experts recommend exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes per day, five days per week. Simply doing this is enough to reduce your risk of death from many factors by 19 percent. By increasing the recommended exercise rate to sevem days per week, the initial 19 percent increases to 24.

A related study proved that individuals who led sedentary lifestyles have a much greater risk of death due to heart disease as those who exercise on a daily basis.

Should you ever skip a workout?

No matter what your fitness level, there may be times when it is necessary to take a small break between workouts. If you have a fever, suffering from an illness such as the flu, are injured, or are experiencing fatigue, you may need to take a step back from working out. Consider this time to be a sort of “recovery” process, but do not get into the habit of consistently missing an exercise session.

Missing is a slippery slope. Once you miss too many, too often, that is an easy recipe for giving up due to the hill one must re-climb to get back where they were, post break.

No matter what type of exercise you perform, remember that something is always better than nothing. If you become bored with your current workout routine, don’t just simply throw in the towel. Take a short while to try other activities until you find one you like.

For example, if you love running but are beginning to find it monotonous, try yoga instead. Sometimes this type of switch is just what you need to ignite your passion for fitness again and prevent you from stopping entirely. I simply tell myself to “show up” for my workouts, even if the energy and drive is suspect. Given, I showed up, I might as well push as hard as I can, based on how I feel drive and energy wise, that day.

Face it, not all workouts are the same. Some, super human, some sub human, but in the end you walk away feeling better about you, due to “at least I did not bail,” and most importantly, I tell myself “eat clean 95 percent” of the time. If we do these two simple things, chances are we win. Workouts promote change; good nutrition insures it in fact happens.

Fitness Together Mission Hills offers personal training with qualified professionals by regular appointment in private suites. Exercise and nutritional programs are custom designed to fit your needs and abilities. Call (619) 794-0014 for more information or to schedule a free fitness diagnostic and private training session. See what others are saying about us on Yelp.


Category: Health & Fitness

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