Whether you’re taking a literal vacation or feel as though you need a break from your normal routine, it can be tempting to give yourself permission to take time off from your fitness program. This temptation can be especially challenging if you’re having difficulty motivating yourself to stay on track.
While we all need a rest day (or even a rest week) every now and again, that doesn’t mean you should completely fall off your fitness bandwagon. Before you decide to take a vacation from your workouts, stop and consider why it might be a bad idea to take a full-blown break from fitness.
You’ll Lose More Progress Than You Think
Research has shown even short breaks can undermine any improvements you’ve made in your health. For example, in one study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers determined participants who had worked out regularly for eight months lost nearly half of their blood glucose improvements after only 14 days of inactivity.
For the people in this study, it took merely two weeks to wipe out months of hard work. Is there any vacation worth setting your training program back by eight months?
Your Strength Will Decline
Strength is one of the first areas many of us start to notice a decline when we’re not working out. Again, this is a difference you’ll probably notice within the first two weeks of missed workouts.
Unfortunately, it takes much more time to build up endurance and strength than it does to lose it. In one study, published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, researchers noted after stopping their workouts for two weeks and then starting up again, participants still weren’t up to their previous levels six weeks later.
It Will Be Harder To Start Up Again
Though most people fall off the wagon a time or two when they’re working toward a goal, studies, such as the one published in Psychology Today, have proven it’s much easier to get back on track if you don’t allow too much time to pass. The more time you allow yourself to ditch your goals, the more you start to feel as though you’re defeated rather than being in the midst of a lapse.
The secret to getting yourself back on track is to minimize the time spent away from pursuing your goal. The longer you wait, the harder it will be when you eventually decide to get back to work.
You Might Gain Fat
When you stop working out, you stop increasing your muscle mass. As we all know, muscle burns more calories than fat. As your muscle mass begins to dwindle, your body’s calorie needs will decrease. If you don’t change your eating habits to compensate for the reduction in your workouts, you’ll begin to put on extra fat.
Your body’s reaction to skipped workouts will vary and is dependent on a host of factors, including your age, gender, genetics, current activity levels, how long you’ve training and nutrition, among other things.
What Should You Do?
While the speed at which progress declines is different for everyone, the fact remains it will begin to decline the moment you stop working out. So, instead of skipping out on your fitness routine entirely, try to incorporate some activity into your break. You might be surprised at how fun and easy it is to get in some moderate exercise, even when you’re on vacation.
Here are some great ways to incorporate fitness into your time off.
Make It Fun
If what you’re looking for is a break from the monotony of the gym, you can achieve that easily without completely giving up on your workouts. Try a new workout outside your comfort zone. For example:
- Go for a hike on a nearby trail. For added difficulty, stop for push-ups or crunches at set intervals.
- Try a new sport, such as rock climbing or surfing. You’ll challenge your body while having fun.
- Set a goal to try five new fitness classes in one week. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy the different styles of workouts.
There’s no limit to the different ways you can shake up your workout routine and have fun with fitness no matter where you are.
A little planning can go a long way in your fitness program. As you’re considering the time you want to take off from your normal workout program, try to plan activities to keep yourself active. Instead of dinner and a movie, try dinner and a stroll on the boardwalk. Rather than lying on the beach all day, go for a run or a swim or start up a game of sand volleyball. You can even plan your whole vacation around being active, such as skiing or scuba diving trip. You don’t have to necessarily be pumping iron at the gym in order to keep your fitness up; not all of your workouts have to be regimented. As long as you’re exerting yourself and moving your body, you’ll be making forward progress instead of slipping backward.
While it can be tempting to ditch your workout routine sometimes, in the long run, it’s a better idea to shake things up. Make your workouts more fun and incorporate them into your plans rather than skip them completely. Your future self will thank you for not sabotaging all of your previous hard work.
Be sure to let us know your favorite tips and tricks for staying on track with your workouts.