Gingerbread, holiday parties, presents, long lunches, late nights… what’s not to love about the festive season? When December rolls around and your year starts to wind down, your social life really picks up, which can often mean other areas of your life have the tendency to be left a little neglected… exercise, I’m looking at you. While taking the time relax and allowing yourself to indulge a little after a long year is perfectly fine – healthy even, did you know it doesn’t actually take long to lose your fitness? We caught up with Neil Russell, Exercise Physiologist and Director of Aleta to find out how long it takes to lose your fitness…
There are a multitude of factors that impact the rate of fitness loss caused by inactivity. These include age, fitness level, type of fitness and training load immediately prior to inactivity. Whilst a couple of days to a week of inactivity will not significantly hinder the average persons fitness levels, anything over 2-weeks may result in a variety of physiological changes in the body that indicates a reduction in fitness.
For those training at a high intensity, a rest week may allow the physiological adaptations of a tough training program to overcome the fatigue that the same program has inflicted. This is known as ‘overreaching’ and it is a training tool used by many athletes.
So what does this mean for you?
Although you should try to stay consistent with your training, don’t beat yourself up for missing a few days here and there. Keep in mind that elite athletes use tapering periods to optimise their performance and factor rest weeks into their training cycle to maximise their fitness levels.
When planning an appropriate training and resting program for you consider the following:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- Should you focus more on nutrition?
- Will it benefit you?
- DO you need to find balance?
Enforcing no rest or ingraining in yourself that training must be done every day is understandable for those who only participate in low to moderate intensity exercise, but for those working at a higher level, this mentality can be a dangerous formula both physically and mentally. It can lead to unhealthy exercise addiction and overtraining which actually results in a reduction in fitness, performance and ultimately health.
Overtraining will result in a burnout. The key is to achieve balance!