What happens to your body after taking a few weeks off exercise?

The silly season has well and truly begun. It’s become way too easy to ditch the after-work training session in favour of Christmas parties or long dinners which then results in sleeping in for your early morning training session.

But what happens to your body — your fitness levels, muscle mass, and your mind — when you stop exercising? Well for starters, your fitness levels decrease. When detraining starts to occur, you see a decrease in cardio and fitness. The main impact will be felt when you try to start exercising again. If you’re really fit and usually work out quite often, the damage won’t be as bad.

With detraining, the fitter you are the slower the effects of stopping exercise and you tend to get back your fitness pretty quickly. However for people who haven’t been doing very much exercise, if they stop for two weeks then they will go backwards quite quickly.

Muscle soreness is going to be an issue as well. And we have all experienced that debilitating feeling of achy muscles and stiffness if you haven’t done much training and you come back. But truth be told, if you’ve been training really heavily for a long time, having a break for two weeks to let your body recover can be a good thing.

What about weight gain? Well it’s not going to be enormous over that period, but you could gain 2-3 kilos.  That won’t be helped by the fact that you’ll be searching for comfort foods. When people are exercising regularly, they have more healthy food cravings. When people have an active lifestyle they don’t crave fatty foods as much.

What about your mood? Have you noticed that your energy changes when you stop exercising? You get a big dip in mood and you’ll feel a bit flat. Another fact that proves the benefits you get from being active are above and beyond the physical. It can reduce most of the negative mental states and some symptoms of depression and anxiety. Usually you’ll see an improved mood, slightly elevated energy levels and over and over I have seen proof with clients experiencing an increase in self-esteem.

Plus we know that there are benefits of doing exercise outdoors that are above and beyond doing exercise in a gym, especially in a group environment. When you’re outdoors your brain relaxes and you’re distracted from your troubles.  When we live in a built-up environment you get stimulus overload, but when you train outdoors your body and brain unwind and connect with nature plus you get to also connect with like-minded women just like you!

So don’t let the festive season get the better of you and lead you down the wrong path. The take home message is stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize. At the end of the day its all about BALANCE. So make sure you make time to LIVE but not to the detriment of your fitness and health!

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