Here's the thing about exercise: You can never stop doing it. It's kind of like, say, coloring your gray hair. Once you start doing it and you look and feel a certain way, there's no stopping without losing all that great health and fitness...or great looking hair, depending on which one we're talking about.
Still, that doesn't mean you can't take a break from your exercise routine from time to time. In fact, it's often a good idea to have planned breaks so that your body can rest before it gets tired or injured.
That's a lovely idea, of course, but as one of my clients pointed out last week, most of us don't plan an exercise break. It's more like one takes an exercise break and only realizes how long of a break it actually is when one's clothes no longer fit.
Then the question becomes - How long can you take a break from exercise without losing everything you've gained? I happen to have a handy dandy FAQ about taking a break from exercise that explains the basics, namely that you could probably get away with a week or two without exercise but, after that? You're going to start losing endurance, strength and muscle mass.
However, if you find yourself in one of those 'whoops...an entire month has passed and I haven't returned any of my trainer's calls' moments, don't panic. There are two very important things you can do, even if you've strayed from your regular exercise routine:
- Stay active - Even if you're not hitting the gym or doing your usual workouts, you can still maintain some level of activity by just moving around. Take walks, ride a bike, go swimming, do some yoga...keep your body moving in some form or fashion, even if it's just a few minutes here or there.
- Keep some healthy behaviors - When we do away with one healthy behavior - say, quitting exercise - we tend to throw all those other ones out the window as well, thinking - What's the point if I've already ruined things? The point is, you haven't ruined things just by stopping exercise and you'll feel much better about yourself if you maintain some aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Go easy on the treats and pile up on the fruits and vegetables. Drink more water or spend some time making a new healthy recipe. Keeping one foot in the door will remind you that you're still in the game, even if you're not all the way in.
What about you? Are you on an extended exercise break? Do you ever schedule breaks in your routine? Leave a comment and tell us about taking a break from exercise.