If you constantly come up with excuses for skipping the gym, beware: your fitness goals will suffer, and you may feel the effects sooner than you think.
Maintaining a physically fit body is no easy feat. To stay in top shape, you need discipline, determination and the right lifestyle habits – including eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a regular workout routine.
For fitness enthusiasts like athletes and bodybuilders, going to the gym is a normal part of their daily lives. But for busy people and those who are just starting out on a fitness regimen, finding time to exercise can become arduous. Important work tasks can come up, like meeting a deadline or having to leave town for a business trip. For some people, it’s simply a lack of motivation, leading them to end up skipping the gym and failing to stick to their workout schedule.
If you constantly come up with excuses why you need to “skip” the gym, beware: your body and fitness goals will both suffer, and you may feel the negative effects much sooner than you think.
Just One Week of Skipping the Gym May Drastically Affect Your Fitness Gains
According to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, skipping workouts for just two weeks can lead to significant reductions in your lean muscle mass, insulin sensitivity, and cardiovascular fitness. Board-certified sports medicine physician James Ting, of the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, California, said that it actually takes only two months or more of not working out for you to completely fall out of shape.
However, Coach Peter Magill, a six-time Masters national cross-country champion, has a different opinion on this matter. He says that you can lose as much as 50 percent of your fitness gains after just one week of being inactive.
Typically, if you skip too many workouts, it’s the health of your heart and lungs that fades first. Meanwhile, your strength levels may hold up much longer, as studies have shown that newly made gains in strength tend to stay the same even after months of inactivity.
Don’t Worry… You Can Bounce Back into Shape Even After a Period of Inactivity
Many people who become inactive for weeks or months after stringently following a workout regimen feel nervous about going back to their routine, mainly because they are afraid of straining themselves and becoming injured. The trick is to ease back in gradually, especially if you’re new to working out. However, if you’ve been exercising for a long time, then you’ll find it much easier to go back to your exercise routine.
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Remember that your age also plays a crucial role, and the older you become, the faster your muscles will atrophy if you’re not regularly working out. It will also take you longer to gain your fitness back. However, don’t let that discourage you, as research has found that older adults can still get two- to three-fold increased strength after just three or four months of weight training.
“Skipping” Is Different from “Spacing Out” Your Workouts
Keep in mind that you need to space your workouts appropriately, as your body needs to rest in between each session to recuperate. Not only will this make the workout more productive and effective, but it will also prevent you from putting too much strain on your body, which may lead to injury.
Remember this rule: as intensity increases, frequency can be diminished.
When Is It Okay to Skip the Gym?
If your body is under stress from sickness, then it’s best to avoid working out until your body recuperates. You need to rest as your body mobilizes to fight off the illness. However, there have been studies that say that exercising – as long as it’s done in moderation — may actually kill many viruses. Ideally, it’s best to avoid exercising if you have “below your neck” symptoms, such as:
- Coughing or chest congestion
- Body and muscle aches
- Upset stomach or stomach cramps
However, regardless of your symptoms, you need to carefully listen to your body. If you don’t feel well enough to exercise, then don’t. Doing so may only stress your immune system and prolong your illness.
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