I read an interesting article in Reader’s Digest, January 2013 yesterday about this very topic and since I have so many students off on vacation right now I thought I would share what I learned. (I am relaxing at the Spa in this picture. Melting in the sun.)
The article was written by Alex Hutchinson. It is called Reverse Motion-How long does it take to get out of shape.
If you stop exercise completely, “you may face what Paul Williams of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory calls- asymmetric weight gain and loss-packing on more flab than you’ll lose when you start up again. You don’t get to resume where you left off.”
Alex goes on to explain that the longer you have been a regular exerciser, the less consequences you will suffer from a long vacation. A larger, stronger heart and denser capillary network from years of regular exercise can remain stable while you sit on the beach for the entire summer. “But healthy changes to metabolism begin to reverse after about two weeks and are back to baseline after four. Similarly, muscles shrink to pretraining size after a month or so.”
The science of it all is one thing but going by how you feel when you take a month or more off from training speaks volumes. I personally get so stiff that I find just regular tasks take longer. I begin to feel “off,” and my husband is always ready to point out at about week two or three that I need to go for a run or a power walk or something as my mood is not the same.
Enjoy your vacation but if you can build in two formal workouts a week, instead of the 6 to 8 you are used to this will help to make your return to the gym easier and those first few workouts will be less painful.
Whenever I take a vacation and return to my students, especially my home studio students, we moan and groan through that first week back and all us swear that we are never taking time off AGAIN!
That is not realistic. Have fun but remember that you will pay the price one way or another upon your return. The gym is waiting for everyone.
Have a great day.