3 reasons to get back to your routine
It can be discouraging to fall off of the fitness wagon. Even the most loyal exercisers do for one reason or another at some point in their lives. But what really happens to our bodies after taking some time off- whether it is deliberate or for lack of motivation- for 3 days... or 3 months? Anyone could find themself in the position where they feel like they are at the bottom of the mountain again, but there are some wonderful reasons not to throw in the towel!
1) Protect your body from aging rapidly.
It is an accepted fact that our muscle mass naturally declines with age, but at what rate? Inactive people lose around 3-5% of their muscle per decade starting around the age of thirty. To get a clearer picture, this can also be looked at in terms of pounds- that could be up to 5-7 lbs of muscle loss for most. Women in particular are plagued with their metabolism slowing down and, paired with a decrease in overall body power, this can be quite the double whammy. The real decline in strength can come as early as 50 or 60 and can start to effect more day-to-day activity. But there is still hope for even the most inactive person! Exercising four to five times per week, including some form of strength routine two of those times, can nearly "freeze" the current levels of muscle mass and help the body avoid Sacropenia.
2) Your body hasn't lost its' ability to be strong and healthy after a "fitness break."
Ever wonder how long it actually takes for your body to lose all the benefits of your efforts? Aside from the obvious lack of calorie burn, here are some things to consider if you feel like you've completely lost hope. It takes about a week for your body to lose some of the flexibility gains. We don't start to lose the endurance we have built up from our routines until after 2 weeks, and our muscle strength doesn't start to decline until around the one month mark. In fact, many athletes benefit from a week off once in awhile. When you feel like it just might be too difficult to get back to the gains you previously made, try again! And should you feel that you have gone past this "point of no return", know that your body has the fantastic ability to maintain around 55% of its' original strength gains. Muscle memory is incredibly powerful. Just like a pianist who has taken time away from the keys, a cyclist who hasn't ridden a bike in years, or a runner who has run marathons and taken a break from it all, yes, you can get it back! Sure, it will feel hard and may not be as perfect as it was 10 years ago, but your body maintains the ability to play the keys your mind tells your fingers to play; your legs know the memory of running those miles. It won't be perfect, but achieving success only requires some practice! There is truth in the old adage: "It's like riding a bike."
3) Mental and physical benefits regained.
After some time off, when we get back to a good fitness routine, our self-esteem starts to improve, our hearts get healthier, and many even begin to feel relief from arthritis and see improved joint function. Adding resistance training of any kind, including body resistance training such as yoga and pilates, helps our muscles return to their roles as our body's fat-burning furnace.
So all is not lost! If you are still on track, bravo! But if the summer got to your waistline or you just need a jumpstart, get back in the game. And mix it up- try to switch up your routine every 4 to 6 weeks by adding weight or reps, an extra half mile, or a new class to challenge yourself. Meet your friends for a workout instead of a cocktail. If you are coming back from an injury, be sure to also talk to your doctor. Let me know what you're into right now! The secret is to keep moving and keep improving, so I would like to hear what motivates you. Or if you're looking for motivation, check out the blog archive for some other ideas of great classes.
Let this be the day you commit to maintaining a better you, because you deserve it.