What Really Happens to Your Body When You Stop Working Out
2018 has already started and most of us are motivated to crush some serious goals this year whether it’s getting a new job, saving money or getting in shape before summer comes. But no matter how dedicated you are to achieve your fitness goal, skipping a day (or two) of working out, is bound to happen at some point due to work, vacation or whatever reason, and soon all your health-related New Year’s resolutions go right out the window. So what happens when you neglect the gym once in a while? Let’s find out.
How Long Will it Take You to Fall Out of Shape?
You’ve been working really hard and you can finally see some muscle definition on your body. The results are really motivating, but for some reason, health and fitness take a back seat while other obligations in life get the first priority. Can you still maintain your physique even if you’re not exercising as regularly as you used to? Dr. James Ting, a certified physician says that our physique also experiences inertia, which means that it doesn’t readily accept change; the fitter you are, the more time it will take for your muscles to lose their shape once you step away from the gym.
How your body will react to your current level of activity – or lack thereof – depends on how long you’ve been taking a break from exercising and which workouts you’ve been missing. But generally, if you’ve only taken a week off to enjoy the holidays or go away on a vacation, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting out of shape. One study says that it may take more than a week for your body to soften – anything more than two weeks can have a negative impact on your cardiovascular fitness and result in the loss of lean muscle mass.
What Suffers First: Endurance or Strength?
Our body has two different types of muscles – type I, called slow twitch muscles, and type II, known as the fast twitch muscles – which require different training approaches for proper conditioning. Endurance training consisting mainly of cardiovascular exercises like walking, running or swimming mainly affect type I muscle fibers whereas strength training works on type II muscle fibers which are much powerful and help us get the most out of high-intensity workouts.
If you spend a majority of your time sitting at a desk, walking and performing other day-to-day activities, you’re more likely to use your slow-twitch muscle fibers, but if you want to improve strength and build lean muscle, you need to break a sweat in the gym. Since most of us use type I muscle fibers in our lives, it is understandable that a 10k runner will not experience a loss of stamina as quickly as a bodybuilder will experience loss of strength after not exercising for a prolonged period of time.
Breaks Can Be Good for Your Health
So what is the moral of the story? Are breaks from the gym bad for your health and fitness goals? Not really. If you have been working out consistently, your body could use a break to recharge its batteries so that you return to the gym stronger and well-rested. Both mind and body need rest to recover from intense training in order to prevent fatigue which leads to underperforming. However, if these breaks become too long or frequent, your fitness progress may suffer considerably. Try staying active even on your rest days by walking, swimming, hiking or riding a bike. Taking a break shouldn’t necessarily mean that you glue yourself to the couch and binge on Netflix all day.
If your health has experienced an unfortunate setback, it’s important to ease back into your workout routine rather than going all out at once after taking a long break. Your body is no longer in the same state of fitness as it was before which means that it will take time and patience to build strength and stamina. Pushing yourself beyond your physical limits can result in an injury which might just put you out of the gym for another good month.
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