What happens when you skip your workout?
The occasional ditch day from the gym will allow a person’s body to rest and recover, but missing more than a week of exercise can actually rewind the health effects gained from the workout.
A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology finds that putting off your workout for 14 days can reduce your cardiovascular fitness, lean muscle mass and insulin sensitivity. Other factors that contribute include the types of workouts a person misses and his or her overall fitness.
Ed Bendoraitis, an exercise physiologist at Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., explains the importance of maintaining an exercise routine.
“The gains that you make – whether aerobic or strength-wise – need to be maintained and challenged frequently in order for your health and fitness to improve,” Bendoraitis says. “Basically, you use it or lose it.”
Rest and recovery are key
“Rest and recovery days are just as important as exercise, Bendoraitis says. “Without a recovery day, the body doesn’t have time to rebuild muscle and heal itself to become stronger.”
Take a break
Breaks can be beneficial to improving your strength, muscle development and aerobic fitness.
“Take a day or two off between strength sessions or work on a different muscle group,” Bendoraitis says. “Light to moderate cardio should be incorporated into a person’s training schedule.”
Cardio can include walking, running, biking, rowing and alternative methods can alleviate stress and overuse injury.
When taking a significant break from working out, try easing back in for at least a week, Bendoraitis adds.
He also recommends consulting a doctor when returning from a long break and taking it slow.
“You shouldn’t assume that you can pick up where you left off,” he says. “Gradually working your way back to your maximum performance will help prevent injuries.”
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