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Research shows that the biggest improvements in aerobic fitness come to those how are very deconditioned.  Improvements of up to 25%  in three months can be gained in aerobic fitness.  This is fantastic news for the average person on the street.

Having then worked hard to  build stamina, improve muscle tone and gain strength, what happens if we have to stop training, either through injury or circumstances?

It has been found that for the person who is totally immobilised, ie complete bed rest, muscles begin to decrease in size and strength after just 24 hours.  As far as aerobic fitness is concerned, some researchers have shown that just one week of enforced bed rest can lead to a decrease of 6-7% in oxygen uptake.

Doesn’t sound like anything good can then be said.  What you need to realise is that these findings relate to total bed rest, or complete inactivity.

If you have trained three times a week on a regular basis, the fitness levels that you have gained can be maintained if the exercise you then do is of a similar type, intensity and duration but is then performed twice a week.  It has also been shown that even a weekly training session, again at the right intensity and duration may be enough to retain a large percentage of the benefits gained.

This maintenance programme would only hold you at those levels for one to two weeks.   This is great news if your going on holiday, or have an injury that will not take long to heal.     It is the complete break from training and activity for more than two to three weeks that tends to be the most detrimental.

Some endurance athletes and fitness fanatics have said that they see improvements in their fitness after an enforced lay off.  If this is the case then it will probably be that they have been over training and not allowing their bodies to recover from their exercise training sessions.

The best way to maintain your fitness levels is to build activity into your every day life so that it is second nature to you.  That could include exercising at home,  as well as going to exercise classes, the gym, walking the dog, but most importantly your everyday tasks.  Recent research has shown that hoovering and cleaning the bathroom burns more calories than the Wi Fit!!

If you know that you are going to be busy or away for one week and you won’t be able to do your usual exercise sessions then become INEFFICIENT at home, this way you can continue to maintain your fitness level.  If you are carrying toys, laundry etc up stairs, then don’t take it all in one go, take three trips.  Hanging out the washing, put the laundry basket away from where you are pegging out the washing, this will make you walk up and down!

If you are really concerned about not being able to exercise properly whilst on holiday, you could consider training for longer, for the two weeks prior to going away or do an additional workout at home.

There is no reason why a period of rest should be viewed as a negative. We are too often rushing around and having a week off from the daily grind can be the BEST remedy.

As long as you stay generally physicall active and eat healthily, your health and fitness will not be drastically compromised, you may even feel better or re-energised because of it.

The thing to remember when you return, is to take the first workout at a steady pace and then you will be able to judge where you go from there.

If you have been away for some time because of illness or injury you will need to be cautious so as not to put back your recovery.

If you do have an injury, do NOT exercise that part, but allow it to recover.  You may need to seek professional advice from a physio. Be creative, if its your hand, or arm, there’s nothing to stop you working your legs, maybe a gentle swim.  If in doubt always get professional advice.

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