We’ve all done it, hit the snooze button rather than waking up for that morning workout. Or we get home from a long day at work and plunk down on the couch for a TV marathon instead of training for one. When we go on vacation, sometimes a nap by the pool or beach sounds (and feels) better than going for a run. These skipped workouts are OK and are often good for us; taking a break from working out can be good both physically and mentally. We all have busy lives and sometimes squeezing in a workout can be more stressful than it is helpful. So, don’t feel guilty about taking those breaks from time to time.
It’s when our fitness routine really falls by the wayside that we need to think about the long-term effects of those skipped workouts. Muscular and overall fitness loss due to inactivity is not immediate but can begin as early as 10-14 days away from regular exercise. Just how much and how quickly the body is affected by not working out is based on the kind of activity you were doing before. The downside of not working out regularly increases as time away from fitness also increases.
3 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Stop Working Out
1. We lose mental acuity. There is a very powerful connection between our brains and fitness; we tend to feel more alert, focused, and positive. When we stop working out, those chemical reactions and brain building efforts that exercise forges will start to break down, and to feel tired often contributes to a lack of motivation, especially towards working out.
2. We lose strength. Extended periods of inactivity, meaning at least a month if not more, will trigger a loss in overall muscular strength as well as cardiovascular strength.
3. We start to gain weight. Eventually, the lack of activity may lead to weight gain, as well as elevated blood pressure and blood sugar, two things that are often regulated by a consistent workout routine.
3 Ways To Comeback
1. Don’t beat yourself up over a missed workout. Work, family, and injury are just some reasons why we have to take a break from working out. Sometimes we just need to take the mental break as well. Fitness is meant to make us feel good, not bad, so don’t let the lack of exercise bring you down. That leads us to our next point…
2. Do what you can when you can. Try the “less is more” approach. If you can’t workout 5-6 days a week, but you can do 3 days, then make those 3 days really count. Fewer but more intense workouts, filled with both cardio and strength, will help you to still reap the benefits of a regular fitness routine.
3. Start slow. When you do make a comeback, take your time. Whatever the amount of time you were away, you’re not going to just jump back to where you once were. In order to avoid injury and keep fitness fun, build yourself back gradually. Any prior fitness helped to create valuable muscle memory, so your body will begin to respond positively, especially if you were fit before. Of course, don’t forget to stay hydrated and be sure to stretch.
A few days here and there of missed workouts will not set you back and in fact are considered healthy, both physically and mentally. If you’ve found that your fitness routine has really started to slip away, by weeks, months, or even years, don’t feel discouraged. The benefits of coming back far outweigh the alternatives. It will be hard at first and in time you will begin to see positive results.