The dreaded “D” word. Learn how you can fight deconditioning after a vacation from exercise and the gym!
The weather was hot, the gyms were closed, and you’ve been relaxing – enjoying the lazy, hazy days of summer. Taking a day off here and there is no problem! However, if you’ve been consistently missing your regular run, bike ride, or gym session and notice some aches and pains showing up, you might be experiencing the beginnings of deconditioning.
Exercise creates many changes in your body. Your heart begins to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles contract in a more coordinated manner, and your body becomes more efficient in converting food to energy. Deconditioning is the reversing of these changes. Exercise is a “use it or lose it” kind of thing, and deconditioning is the process by which we “lose it.”
How long does it take for this to happen?
As with most things related to a system as complex as the human body, it depends. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, two weeks without exercise can lead to significant loss of cardiovascular fitness. Two to eight months of detraining can erase virtually all of your gains! In New Jersey, Gyms like Riverton Health and Fitness center were closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 between March 15th and September 1st. In almost six months, many have lost their hard earned gains.
Factors that increase just how much you lose include your age, and your exercise history. If you’re younger, you’ll probably lose fitness at a slower rate than someone older. If you’ve been consistently exercising for a long time, or at a high intensity, your losses will be slower than for someone who just began exercising.
How You Can Reverse the Curse of the “D” Word
This all comes down to choosing a program that works best for you. The way people spend their time has been impacted in many different ways. Some people have found themselves more time due to less time commuting, while others have found themselves juggling online learning with work life. Whether you fit into one category or another, the main takeaway is that your reintroduction into the gym should be seen as a new beginning. This is especially true if your vacation from the gym was longer than your typical break from exercise.
When you go without exercise for an extended period, especially up to 6-8 months as mentioned above, it may take just as long to retrain your body as it did to originally make your initial gains. It is recommended to start with shorter workouts initially and build your way back to where you were before gyms closed down pre-quarantine. This will significantly reduce your risk of injuries due to muscle weakness, impaired mobility, or improper technique.
A common way to incorporate shorter workouts is circuit training. These workouts can be easily achieved in a short period of time, as well as customized to specific muscle groups you want to focus on for that day. One of the best places for circuit training is Riverton Health & Fitness Center, which offers multiple circuit areas with weight-stack machine circuit sets. In addition, they have advanced technology for their members to track the gym’s capacity at any time!
If you’re having aches and pains due to inactivity or need help designing a safe program to either maintain your fitness level or gain it back after a layoff, your physical therapist can help! Your PT can not only help you recover faster, but they can also help you find activities to maintain your fitness level while safely working around injuries and illness!
For anyone who wants to relieve and prevent pain without medications, injections, and costly surgeries; even beyond their 20s.