Even for the most committed exerciser, life sometimes gets in the way of your fitness training. Be it work demands, injuries or relaxing (too much!) on holiday, skipping your workouts will result in your body losing some of its progress.
How quickly this deconditioning happens depends on several factors.
Here’s how an exercise break impacts your body – and what you can do to get it back!
Your flexibility will deteriorate surprisingly quickly if you take significant time off from stretching. After you workout, your muscles and tendons revert to their previous resting length, particularly if you have a sedentary desk job.
After just three days you will notice your flexibility reducing, even more so after a fortnight. You can avoid this by doing some stretching exercises at least 3 times a week.
It’s usually not a good idea to exercise when you’re ill, and to make things worse you will lose fitness up to twice as quickly than if you had a break when you were healthy. This is because illness places more stress on the body. So if you’ve been ill in bed for days, or are recovering from an injury, cut yourself some slack and build back up slowly.
It’s a lot easier to bounce back from a break if you’ve already been exercising over a year or more, as you would have built up ‘muscle memory’.
If you have a new exercise habit – well done – but don’t stop for too long between those gym trips: if your body isn’t used to exercise you can lose all your gains within about 6 weeks.
If you really need to take time off, don’t worry, you can still stay in shape with a little maintenance exercise. For both your aerobic and strength levels to stay the same you need just 20 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) twice a week.
Changes in your muscles begin within days of quitting strength training. The degree and rate depends on what you do all day. Sit around at a desk for hours and you will lose it within two weeks of your last gym session.
Remember, even if you aren’t training properly, every little helps, so using a flexible gym pass for just a few short visits could stave off the decline.
I am glad to read that , as an 'experienced gym-user', I don't have to worry quite so much as a beginner would if I have to take some time off. Saying that, I rarely get sick or injured, but maybe that's because I go to the gym so regularly!
frightening info! Must keep up the work, even if it is at a lower level. I've worked too hard to go back to the start.
Wow - I hadn't a clue strength dropped off so quickly. I need this motivation to get me back to working out after my lazy holiday away.