Can Some Time Off Help Boost Your General Fitness?
If you’re one of those obsessed gym rats who are the first ones in and last ones out of the gym, traveling (whether for business or pleasure purposes) can be a nightmare.
Constantly worrying about the hours of missed workouts and calories piled on can suck all the fun of being in new surroundings.
However, despite your reservations, you should know that a far off trip could just be what your body needs.
This is because if you’ve been training on a consistent basis, taking some time off from intense workouts can be quite beneficial to your overall fitness and well-being. Here’s a look at how this time off will actually help boost your fitness.
A Break Will Strengthen the Body and Enhance Progress of Fitness
One of the worst fears of fitness enthusiasts is that missing several workouts in a row will lead to significant muscle loss or an increase in body fat. That, however, is not entirely true. While there may be some fitness related loses, they do not happen overnight. Research shows that it takes up to 3 weeks of inactivity for the first signs of muscle loss to emerge and about 2 weeks to start losing running fitness. The fitter you are, the longer it will take to go completely out of form.
The great news is that despite the losses, the break will also trigger effects that are even more beneficial. Think of an injury, wound, or illness in the body.
Continuing to function at normal capacity when ill, injured, or nursing a wound will prolong the healing time.
The same is the case with physical activity.
Engaging in intense workouts regularly will take a toll on the body and slow down its ability to recover from workouts. Some time off will allow the stressed out body muscles and joints to recover and increase the body’s energy levels.
Therefore, you will come back from your trip stronger and at a much better position of reaching your desired fitness goals be it muscle development, strength enhancement, or body toning.
The Time off Will Improve Your Mental Fitness
Another benefit of taking some time off from frequent and intense workouts is improved mental health. If you’re traveling to a serene destination, the mental benefits will be even greater.
Just like a rested body, a relaxed mind will allow you to reach optimal performance when you return home and resume your normal fitness regimen. This in turn will allow you to reach even greater fitness heights.
As you can see, taking some time off from a hectic workout schedule will reboot your body, allowing you to come back stronger and fitter.
But that being said, keep in mind that you don’t have to cease all physical activity during your trip.
You should make it a point of staying active without pushing it too far. Walk as much as possible, go swimming, engage in some light resistance exercises, try yoga, go mountain climbing, and so on.
This will allow your body to get the much-needed rest it requires to recover without you losing too much, of whatever fitness progress you have made.
How Much of a Break from Exercise Can You Have Before Losing Fitness?
We all know it takes a long time to get into shape, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose or are in bad shape in the first place, but how long does it take to get out of shape? That answer might surprise you.
Besides taking the normal one day per week off from exercising, it is also a good idea to take a full week off about every two to three months. This is also a good time to switch to a different workout routine.
If you always stick to one routine, your body gets used to it, becomes more efficient at doing it, thus burning fewer calories than when you started.
Taking a week off and changing to a new routine “shocks” your body back into the calorie-burning mode.
But let’s get back to the original question. Two factors determine how much fitness you’ll lose over a prescribed period of time: the length of your break and your fitness level to begin with.
Length of Break
If you have been a longtime exerciser, your muscles have a “memory” and because of this, it will take you longer to get out of shape than someone who has not been exercising and doesn’t have the muscle memory.
There are various factors affecting how fast you lose your fitness level. For example, strength drops off more slowly than endurance.
Studies have shown that a month of inactivity can reduce your endurance level by as much as 20%, however, your strength drop will be negligible.
And age is a factor. In one study of participants age 21 to 75, the older people lost more strength than the younger ones. That stands to reason, because as we age, we lose muscle mass. Sickness is a factor also. If your break is due to some kind of illness, strength loss is more than if you were not sick.
However, there are some things you can do during your planned (or unplanned) break to stay fit. Do some light cardio if it is nothing more than walking. If you can keep your heart rate in the 120 beats per minute range, you can stave off losing your fitness level longer than if you did nothing.
If your break is due to an injury, do some strength training on the unaffected areas. You can keep those areas fit while recovering the injured area. It will be easier to get just that one area fit again instead of your whole body.
Lastly, continue to eat right. Not only will eating healthy help heal the injured area if that is why you took a break, but it will prevent you from gaining weight while not training and give you the nutrients to heal faster.