There are times when sticking to an exercise routine becomes difficult and you may be unable to exercise for a few days or a week. Sometimes circumstances prevent you from getting in your strength training or cardio workouts for an extended period of time, such as a few weeks or months. You may have an injury or illness, a hectic schedule, or simply a lack of motivation. Maybe you’re away on vacation. Unfortunately, you can’t bank exercise. Most of the physiological benefits of exercise start to wane just a few weeks after you become inactive. You may know from experience that when you don’t exercise, you get weaker, slower and fatter; but what actually happens to your body when you take an extended break from exercise?
The level of decline you experience when you stop exercising is based on factors such as your age, gender, genetics and fitness level. One of the first things you’ll notice is a decrease in your physical endurance. You may get out of breath more easily. This is because your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) decreases. VO2 max measures the difference between the oxygen concentration in the blood leaving the heart and returning to the heart. Regular endurance exercise leads to improvements in your heart, blood vessels, capillaries and mitochondria; therefore, your body more efficiently uses oxygen and nutrients. After refraining from cardio exercise (e.g., High Intensity Interval Training, running, aerobics classes, swimming, cycling, brisk walking) for just two weeks, your VO2 max can decrease by 10 per cent and in three months by 20 per cent. [Read more…]