Taking a Break from Workout? You Might Be Sorry
Taking a few days off from workout may not seem so bad. You give your body the chance to recharge and refresh. But 1 day can easily become 2 days, 2 can become 4 and before you know it, you realize you haven’t stepped foot in the gym for two weeks. And a two-week hiatus is a whole different story.
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According to studies, it seems that stopping your training routine, or detraining, for two weeks, is enough for you to notice some not so pleasant changes in your body. Let’s see what those are.
Detraining may affect cardiovascular fitness
First to drop when you take a break from working out is the cardiovascular fitness level, also known as aerobic condition.
Aerobic exercise is efficient for the lungs and heart, helping them pump blood and providing fresh oxygen to your body. Lack of training translates into less blood pumped by the heart. This, in turn, generates a decline in VO2 max, namely how much oxygen your body can use during exercise.
This is particularly noticeable in the case of endurance athletes who experience a 20 percent decline in VO2 after only four weeks of inactivity. Moreover, no exercise for two to four weeks may reverse important other fitness gains in terms of in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
Detraining may reduce muscle mass
When it comes to muscle mass, there are various factors that contribute to its drop, such as age, gender, level of training.
For example, a sedentary person who began working out for a few months and then stopped for a few weeks, will more likely suffer a more visible muscle mass drop than an athlete taking the same hiatus. In addition, for active adults over 50, especially women, inactivity generates a twice as fast decrease as for their younger counterparts.
For trained athletes, muscle strength does not suffer such a substantial decline even after a month of training cessation. But, there’s a catch, as always. Even if overall strength is not significantly affected, the same cannot be said about muscle fibers, specialized for a certain sport, and neuromuscular training adaptations.
Thus, a two-weeks break can affect muscle memory and make your training comeback seem a little bit more challenging.
How to avoid detraining
Whatever the reason for taking a break from workout, unless it’s something serious that completely prevents you from exercising, there are ways to stay in shape during your downtime.
One would be to try to stay physically active in other ways, if going to the gym cannot be a priority. Something is better than nothing. So, try brisk walking, light jogging or some other light to moderate activity to maintain your fitness gains.
Also, keep a closer eye on what you eat during this break. Exercise is known to facilitate a better control of unhealthy cravings. In its absence, supply your body with protein, healthy fats and low carb foods. This will also help you avoid gaining unwanted pounds which would make your fitness comeback even harder.